While watching “tick, tick…BOOM!” I was overcome with the impression that the music and overall feeling of the film were similar to that of “Rent.” I’ve seen “Rent” on-screen and live onstage many times, so I consider myself a bit of an expert on the subject.
However, since I like going into a movie somewhat cold, not too much awareness of what it’s about, I was surprised to learn why the “Rent” similarities were so prevalent. This is the story of Jonathan Larson. Larson transformed the theater experience for many of us once his hit show (well, what do you know), “RENT” went all the way to the top.
In the film, the composer and playwright, played by Andrew Garfield, beautifully sings the story of the show he did that preceded “Rent.” He belts out a tune before an audience, awaiting their reactions. Hearing the musical numbers, I suspect this soundtrack will do exceptionally well, though some are better than others. As Larson tries to write the final piece for his musical “Superbia” he gets some advice. That advice is to “write what you know.’
We then get to know the character more as he hits the horrifying age of, say it isn’t so, thirty. A beautiful story arc builds around all of this and his friendships. At the time, Larson was a struggling artist trying to survive his dreams of being a successful writer. After the writing suggestion, he comes up with “RENT.” As you may or may not know, it just so happens that it tells the history of a group of characters who are cash-poor artists, as he and his friends were. It also dives deep into how the AIDS epidemic ravaged the city, taking away those they loved most.
I feel it worth mentioning that in 1996, Larson was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and several Tony Awards for “Rent.” Director Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, as well. The star in his film about Larson’s journey is an Academy Award nominee and Tony Award winner, too. That’s a lot of talent for one story. Think it’s going to be good? If you said, “Yes,” you’d be correct. The list of performers in this film is a mile long. I won’t get into them all, but you’ll love some of the surprise appearances. One of the easiest to spot was Joel Grey, who played Jonathan’s father, Allen.
I’ve mentioned the talent as a reason to see this, but if you liked “Rent,” you can’t miss out on this. Suppose you’re a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda. In that case, this is his directorial debut, so have faith in his abilities and see this at a theater near you; if you’re lucky enough to be in a city where it’s playing. Or watch it on Netflix, starting today, November 19. Watch the credits for actual footage of Jonathan Larson himself.
For more information, go to www.netflix.com/ticktickboom.
Directed by: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Writer: Steven Levenson (Screenplay)
Based on Musical by: Jonathan Larson
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Mj Rodriguez, Bradley Whitford, Tariq Trotter, with Judith Light, and Vanessa Hudgens
Rated: PG-13 *Some Suggestive and Rude Humor, Some Strong Language, Drug Reference
Run Time: 1h 55m
Genres: Drama, Musical, Biography
Produced by: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Julie Oh, p.g.a., Lin-Manuel Miranda p.g.a.