Arts & Entertainment

Dear Evan Hansen: Tragedy or Comedy?

By Aidan Callahan, Back Page editor

Dear Evan Hansen is strange. It’s peculiar. But most of all, it’s downright bizarre.

It’s strange because on the surface this film’s actually pretty good. The soundtrack is only bangers and it’s complemented by a great cast paired with some clever dialogue.

What makes it bizarre is that all this impressive film-making is used to tell the story of maybe the worst main character in all of cinematic history. Evan Hansen is, at best, a total creep and megalomaniac; at worst, he’s a sociopath with potential to be the next great American serial killer.

Let’s address the elephant man in the room: Evan Hansen, a high school senior, is played by Ben Platt, a 28-year-old man. We’ve all seen 20-somethings play high schoolers before, but this takes it to its most extreme.

This man’s shyness knows no bounds. At one point, he is so shy that he flirts with the dead guy’s sister by pretending that all his creepy observations he made while stalking her were actually made by her brother. Using this malicious and manipulative tactic, he ends up dating this girl for months. Months!

Now, in my opinion, this shows a level of disregard for human emotions that may be an early warning sign for a serial killer, but the movie plays it off as “cute.”

I have many theatre friends who claim that this musical plays much better for the stage. I can totally believe that; maybe when they have the right actor playing Evan Hansen the comedy of it all comes out. But by having a 28-year-old man pretend to be a high schooler, all it does is highlight how morally bankrupt this kid truly is.

I can not emphasize enough that Evan Hansen could, at any moment, stop lying to a grieving family about their son he never knew, yet he consistently chooses not to.

I do not recommend watching this movie. The music is too good for you to watch it ironically, and Ben Platt is too 28 for you to watch it unironically.

I recommend listening to the soundtrack because then you can at least imagine Evan not being a sociopath. You can also imagine him being the right age and least realistic. They don’t even try to de-age him, and it is just absurd.

The opening song features Evan singing about how he feels unnoticed at school, but it doesn’t feel like the emotional moment it’s supposed to. Instead, it feels like a bit from a sketch comedy show where the joke is that this guy thinks everyone at school ignores him because he’s shy when it’s actually because he is clearly a 28-year-old man.

This feeling never goes away. You’ll never flip a switch and suddenly be able to see Evan Hansen as a teenager; you will need to keep remind- ing yourself that this isn’t some sort of 21 Jump Street situation. Even so, the most absurd aspect of the mov- ie is its plot. This film takes placeafterthetragicsuicide of a boy in EvanHansen’s high school. Though he didn’t know him, Evan not only convinces his entire school that he was this kid’s best friend, but he also convinces the kid’s grieving family who he pro- ceeds to ingrain himself into.

This premise is played comedically, which you might expect comes from the absolute depravity of Evan Hansen. This would make the most sense; the idea of faking a friendship with a dark comic, one you might see in an episode of something like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Musical-turned movie, Dear Evan Hansen, has landed itself in the spotlight of controversy. With its illustration of mental health crises, it has been a prominent source of discussion in recent popular culture.

But no. That’s not it. The comedy of this premise comes from the fact that Evan Hansen is too shy to tell people the truth. Let me repeat that: this man is too shy not to tell people he was best friends with a dead kid. He’s so shy that he makes up ample anecdotes about their time together and proceeds to go viral for it.

This man’s shyness knows no bounds. At one point, he is so shy that he flirts with the dead guy’s sister by pretending that all his creepy observations he made while stalking her were actually made by her brother. Using this malicious and manipulative tactic, he ends up dating this girl for months. Months!

Now, in my opinion, this shows a level of disregard for human emotions that may be an early warning sign for a serial killer, but the movie plays it off as “cute.”

I have many theatre friends who claim that this musical plays much better for the stage. I can totally believe that; maybe when they have the right actor playing Evan Hansen the comedy of it all comes out. But by having a 28-year-old man pretend to be a high schooler, all it does is highlight how morally bankrupt this kid truly is.

I can not emphasize enough that Evan Hansen could, at any moment, stop lying to a grieving family about their son he never knew, yet he consistently chooses not to.

I do not recommend watching this movie. The music is too good for you to watch it ironically, and Ben Platt is too 28 for you to watch it unironically.

I recommend listening to the soundtrack because then you can at least imagine Evan Hansen not being a sociopath. You can also imagine him being the right age.

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