Tick, Tick… Boom! is a love letter and a piece of encouragement to any creative who feels their youth is fleeting and their chance to make it alongside it.

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Tick, Tick… Boom! is a love letter and a piece of encouragement to any creative who feels their youth is fleeting and their chance to make it alongside it.

Director(s)                Lin-Manuel Miranda
Screenplay By Steven Levenson
Date Released 11/12/2021
Where To Watch In Theaters

Netflix Original (11/19/2021)

Genre(s) Comedy, Drama, Romance, Young Adult, LGBT, Biopic, Musical, Historical
Duration 1 Hour, 55 Minutes
Content Rating PG-13
Noted Cast
Jonathan Larson Andrew Garfield
Michael Robin de Jesus
Susan Alexandra Shipp
Karissa Vanessa Hudgens

Film Summary

On the precipice of his 30th birthday, Jonathan Larson is desperate to get his 8 year in development musical from his Macintosh computer and sheet music to the stage. Broadway, of course, preferred, but even off-Broadway would do. I mean, a check is a check.

But the pressure is seriously on. Bills need to be paid, and being a writer, who happens to wait tables to pay the bills, is no longer a cute coming-of-age story. It is becoming a Peter Pan story that, as Jonathan’s best friend, Michael, outgrew his dream, and Jonathan’s girlfriend, Susan, pursues teaching the next generation, than being it, leaves him with support, but borderline being on his own.

So with finally securing a workshop, Jonathan gives it his all and sacrifices everything in hopes of this being it. For if it isn’t, then the little deaths which have been every rejection will become an absolute murder.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: There is drinking, the occasional mention of drugs, depiction of someone with a developed form of AIDS, and situations when people are in the prelude to sex
  • Considering RENT’s archival footage, why wasn’t that done for other parts of Jonathan’s life?



Even If Not Into Musicals, The Songs Keep You Attentive

Tick, Tick BOOM! has some of the catchiest music you may have ever heard from a non-Disney musical. Not only that, it pushes you to often appreciate the lyricism, and not just sounds playing alongside the music. I’d even say it made me wish captions were mainstream and on the screen just so that I could fully appreciate Jonathan talking about turning 30 or my favorite song, “Therapy.” A song that has Jonathan and Karessa, played by Vanessa Hudgens, go back and forth in such a way that, as much as this is Garfield’s movie, you can see Hudgens given multiple opportunities to shine while getting minimal dialog.

Andrew Garfield’s Chemistry With His Cast And You

Garfield has such a high energy performance that it brings life to every song, every scene, and might be why someone like me, who usually isn’t into musicals, beyond jukebox musicals, couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. Whether moving around and working the room, focused solely on his girlfriend Susan, or freaking out over deadlines while his best friend Michael struggles to get his attention, Garfield never lets you go. I’d even liken it to having an extroverted partner who knows you’ll find somewhere to disappear to if they let go.

And I’d like to add, similar to what we saw with him in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, he is such a giving actor. He makes it so, whether the intimacy is friendship, like with Michael, romantic, like with Susan, or you are just his scene partner, you feel the other person is there with him. There is no sense of him being the star, and they are the supporting role. He might have the camera more focused on him, but there is such a sense that he wants to play with his co-stars that it’s hard to not be as charmed by Garfield as people are of Jonathan and his talent.

Vanessa Hudgens And Alexandra Shipp

Karissa (Vanessa Hudgens) at Jonathan's workshop for his first musical
tick, tick…BOOM! (L-R) VANESSA HUDGENS as KARESSA in tick, tick…BOOM!. Cr. MACALL POLAY/NETFLIX © 2021

While we know Vanessa Hudgens’ talent far surpasses the more upbeat or tame things she usually stars in, what Tick, Tick BOOM! really does is remind you, even without the strongest vocals, you can be an engaging, comical, and notable performer. Which is what she mainly brings since Karissa doesn’t have a lot of dialog in the film. Hudgens is mainly one of Jonathan’s performers in his stage shows, so her voice is predominately showcased.

Now, if you remember her in RENT, or even High School Musical, she doesn’t usually present anything noteworthy, but she can carry a tune. However, as shown in roles that push her as an actor, she excels if Hudgens is presented with a challenge and given the right people to help her overcome it. Making it so, often, I hoped Jonathan would move on from Susan and be with Karissa.

But with that said, Alexandra Shipp was no slouch. Granted, she was largely regulated to playing the girlfriend role, but she does get the opportunity to sing and may surprise you with her abilities. Not to the point you think she should do more musicals, but as time goes on, it does seem that Shipp should be added to the multitude of actresses who maybe aren’t run of the mill but simply don’t pick or are chosen for roles that show they can do more than what most people see.

Understanding The Fear Of Turning 30

There is this idea held that you need to have your s*** together by the time you turn 30, and Jonathan presents that in ways I don’t think can be fully appreciated by anyone who didn’t have a quarter-life crisis. For the idea here is, your 20s should be when you get your foundation set, when all the time you put into something, be it school, gaining experience, or some project finally begins to pay off. Yet, if you see no signs of that, so triggers the idea that you wasted an entire decade with no one to blame but yourself.

Watching Jonathan get anxiety about that easily can be conferred to you, if not increase your own issues with reaching some milestone in your life. But, it is one of those things that, if the music doesn’t hook you, that will since it gives the kind of base which makes it clear Jonathan doesn’t live in Neverland but so desperately wants to hold onto the feeling of flying.

On The Fence

After A Certain Point, You Will Wonder How Much Longer Is This?

I don’t know why so many films want to push towards being two hours, but I can tell you this is another one that feels longer than it should be. And if we were to be honest, what perhaps is a reason for why it is so long is to make sure you feel the weight of some of Jonathan’s friends who are LGBTQIA+ and dealing with the AIDS epidemic.

Jonathan (Andrew Garfield) and Michael (Robin de Jesus) having a conversation

But the problem is, for us, while it is established who is who, their relationship to Jonathan, and their status, it isn’t about them. So they never evolve beyond that friend of a friend feeling. So even when you know bad things are happening to them, it doesn’t get you emotional. It just helps you understand the basis for Jonathan Larson’s final production, RENT.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Between the music, Andrew Garfield, and the surprise performances of Vanessa Hudgens and Alexandra Shipp, that is the selling point for Tick, Tick Boom! Now, do we wish it was shorter and can see ways it could have done that? Yes. But to cut the people who made Jonathan’s community would take away from you understanding his whimsy, his passion for the LGBTQIA+ community, and give you an incomplete story about the young man who died right before his biggest hit.

But even with a slightly longer than desired run time, Tick, Tick BOOM!  is worth seeing.

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Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) struggling to make a song
Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Fans of musical theater and those with a curiosity about the man behind RENT
Understanding The Fear Of Turning 30
Vanessa Hudgens And Alexandra Shipp
Andrew Garfield's Chemistry With His Cast And You
Even If Not Into Musicals, The Songs Keep You Attentive
After A Certain Point, You Will Wonder How Much Longer Is This?

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