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‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Should Have Been Stuffed Into a Locker and Forgotten

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You’ll find it hard to care despite the film’s insistence that you probably should.

Universal Pictures

By Rob Hunter · Published on September 23rd, 2021

The difference between intention and execution is typically not all that noticeable, but sometimes the target an artist aims for is far removed from the one they hit. That divide has rarely been as wide as the one existing between the stated themes of Dear Evan Hansen and the film itself. It is a movie with the best of intentions, but it’s destined to leave some viewers with the meanest of thoughts about the title character.

Evan (a twenty-seven year-old Ben Platt) is a teenager with Social Anxiety disorder. We know this because he says as much but also because his hands fidget, he looks to the floor a lot, and he sings (songs that others hear as normal talking). A well-meaning therapist, probably unlicensed, suggests he write and print positive, optimistic letters to himself to start his day on the right foot. Evan does just that while at school one day, but his written thoughts take a darker turn. Worse, the printout is taken by the school’s loner, Connor (Colton Ryan), who proceeds to go home and kill himself. Connor’s grieving parents (Amy Adams, Danny Pino) assume their son wrote the note and that the two teens were friends, and Evan — awkward, lonely, anxious, selfish, devious Evan — encourages that belief.

Look, I’m all for stories telling the sad truth about victims gaining power and becoming the villains, but where 2017’s underseen Taiwanese gem Mon Mon Mon Monsters and Nate’s arc on the second season of Ted Lasso get it right, Dear Evan Hansen gets........

© Film School Rejects

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