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Dear Evan Hansen; Grade: D+

Dear Evan Hansen tells a story about a boy named Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) whom is gearing up for his last year in high school. Evan Hansen has anxiety when comes to socializing, as because of this he has to take multiple medications. Along with the medications, his therapist enforces Evan to write letters to himself hoping to spark some motivation towards his days. As Evan has a rough first day of school, he goes on the school computer and writes a very saddening letter to himself. A boy named Connor (Colton Ryan) whom yelled at Evan not too long ago, gets a hold of Evan’s letter as he runs away with it. Evan fears Connor is going to post his letter on the internet, causing bullying to be done to Evan. Unfortunately… Connor killed himself, as Connor’s family handed Evan his own letter he wrote to himself, as the family assumes this was Connor’s suicide note. Evan goes along with it as the Connor family feels Evan was his best friend, due to the fact Connor wrote his name on his cask. What is bound to happen to Evan going forward, as he lets this one gigantic secret ride until the very end?!

When I watched the trailer for Dear Evan Hansen, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, this kind of looks good.” But then Evan Hansen sings randomly, as it follows the title card reading from the songwriters of so and so… I was then confused?! The singing from the trailer looked awkward for sure, however I just assumed maybe Evan had dreams of wanting to become a singer, however stage freight gave him way too much anxiety to sing out to the public to go ahead and pursue his dream. I didn’t expect a film like this, with a story like this would just suddenly become a musical… It’s such an odd choice for a musical. With a serious subject matter being dealt with in terms of depression and suicide tendencies… The last thing people think of is musical numbers. It’s a serious subject matter as one can’t phantom the fact it’ll be dealt in a singing matter… I’m surprised there wasn’t no uproar about this or maybe there was, I’m not on Twitter much.

The best thing going for with Dear Evan Hansen is the character Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) who is Connor’s sister. The character Zoe was developed really well and easily the best character written in this entire film, to where you can say she’s honestly the real protagonist in this film. You understand the frustration coming from Zoe, with regarding to her brothers passing and the way her family treats her. We understand Zoe is in the wrong for not feeling much sympathy for her brother’s passing, however given Connor’s mannerism and his past… It makes sense one like Zoe doesn’t feel sympathy at the moment. Connor has a temper tantrum whether it be verbally or physically, as Zoe has encountered fear from Connor majority of her life. It also takes a toll on Zoe given the fact she used to go the extra mile for him and his whole family went the extra mile for him as well, however her family doesn’t do the same for Zoe. So you can understand why at the time of his passing, she doesn’t feel entirely upset, in fact feels more angered by others reactions following his death.

Over the course of the film: The way Zoe has developed a better understanding and sympathy towards her brother’s passing was very believable. She has grown of the course of the film, as even through coming to know Evan and so many others that are dealing with something, she has a much better understanding and can now forgive Connor.

Dear Evan Hansen is a bit of wreck, as it all starts with our lead character Evan Hansen. Now one can understand why Evan felt the need to go along with this fucked up charade. Not only does his lies bring comfort to the family, but also brings comfort to Evan. Evan doesn’t have any friends and his mother is gone most of the time due to her work schedule. So Evan feels mostly alone and since he has a social disorder to where anxiety flares up on the thought of socializing… It’s extremely difficult for him to go out of his way and socialize with others. So when this family gives Evan the attention and comfort he has longed for… It’s hard for him to resist telling them the truth. If he tells them the truth, then they no longer wish to socialize with him on the count he had literally no impact on Connor’s life. Plus the family finds some sense of joy in hearing stories about their son, so within Evans interest he also believes he’s making a difference.

So you understand why Evan goes through with the lies, however given the fact we’re talking about one that committed suicide… It’s appalling Evan would ever attempt to do such a horrific act like this. It’s not only insulting to the family of Connor’s, but it’s more insulting to Connor. It’s one thing to respect and honor one’s memory to someone you don’t know, but to go out of your way and use one’s tragic death to benefit your wants and needs which that was more of Evan’s intentions as the film goes along… It makes me angry and it should anger everyone. Evan Hansen is a prime example of why I can’t stand people talking about mental health, depression, and suicide: It’s not discussed because you care about the manner, it’s discussed because you see a benefit out of it for yourself.

For those that think “Oh no Evan wanted to keep it going because he cared about that family” care to explain why he got mad, when confronted by one of Connor’s friends?! He got mad because he didn’t want to lose all that he had, from which he gained out of Connor’s death. He’s got a family that loves him and wants to pay for his college tuition, he’s got new friends, and he’s dating the one girl he’s been crazy about all his life but was too afraid to even say hi in the first place… Majority of Evan lying had barely anything to do with helping that family, it all had to do with helping himself. The fact this film tries and make him a protagonist is sickening, I understand the reasonings behind it, but I would never wish anyone whom tragically passed to get the same fake treatment Evan made on Connor’s memory. Evan Hansen could’ve at least done the right thing and tell the truth, while actually making a difference without this whole damn charade. Heck if you loved Zoe so badly, show her with action and actually comfort her the right way.

There’s a moment in this film where it attempts to explore the problematic side, of teenagers being recommended to take medications to help solve their problems. It’s a scene between Evan and Connor’s friend Alana (Amandla Stenberg), as they both reveal what meds are they on as Evan is surprised Alana takes meds. What I thought would’ve been a powerful moment where they sound off on medications, which I thought was going to happen… They instead do a boring musical number, of how everyone should reveal their true selves. It kind of makes the conversation completely pointless, yeah sure they could reveal their true selves as everyone dealing with something, however given the fact the two question why they’re taking meds that’s not actually making them feel any better… You’d think they would explore a powerful moment, where the real medication worth taking is seeking closure from others instead of popping pills?!

No wonder why so many young children are dealing with complications of Mental Health: You tell kids to go fuck off and put them on drugs, hoping that’ll help them… That’s not gonna help them at all, it’s a pathway into them becoming addicts. You’re supposed to not only be there for them to your best ability, but to also teach them how to create a stronger mind within all the battles they go through in life. Majority of the time: There is nothing wrong with these kids, someday they’re gonna feel angry and upset about something like normal people feel every day in life and you know what?! That’s ok, TEACH THEM how to handle it correctly and move on. I’m sorry: But when a film is handling a character whom is taking THREE different kinds of medications to go on a single day and the only diagnosis is “Social Anxiety”, as the kid looks worse and the film doesn’t address why medications aren’t the answer to solving your problems… I gotta question it. Words on Bathroom Walls addressed it and honestly was inspiring while doing it, why can’t this film challenge it too?!

I felt Dear Evan Hansen could’ve potentially be a C- to C caliber kind of movie. Sure the main character is awful, however I felt the way this film concluded his character in the ending wrapped up nicely, delivering a sincere message of how you’re suppose to go react with someone’s tragic passing. However one can’t help the biggest complaint of Dear Evan Hansen that sent a warning sign in the trailer… The musical aspect of it.

The musical aspect of Dear Evan Hansen is completely unnecessary, while also being extremely awful. As said earlier for a story like this it’s confusing why it’s a musical to begin with, however a fair amount of musical numbers in this film didn’t felt needed in some moments in this story. There are serious situations in this film that could perhaps be great scenes worth taken seriously… But then they randomly sing as it takes you out of those scenes completely. It felt much of a distraction as I would just rather hear the characters talk while these serious situations are going on, there is no need for musical numbers it just comes off extremely baffling. There is no reason why there needs to be singing number in the crucial moment between Evan and Connor’s family, there is no reason we have to have a musical number between an emotional moment between Connor and his mother.

I felt there was one good musical number in this entire film and that was Connor’s song in the third act. Not only was the song actually good to listen to as the lyrics were fairly written, but also it was properly placed as it compliments the tone. The rest of the musical numbers are awful mainly from a sound perspective. It’s hard to follow along songs that sound terrible, as Dear Evan Hansen follows the main issue I have with modern day musicals. Instead of singing naturally, we have to endure a great amount of auto tune and a whole bunch of editing regarding how people sing. Not only does it sound like a total nightmare especially from our lead Evan whom sounds like a Billy Goat singing, but it doesn’t feel real. Like is it that hard to find people who can naturally sing?! I swear hearing these songs sang just make me nauseous, can we please STOP WITH THE POP AUTOTUNE NONSENSE?!

Overall, Dear Evan Hansen is crap. I don’t recommend this film, unless you want to show this movie as a prime example why you shouldn’t commit suicide… Because after watching this I no longer wish to commit suicide. The thought of experiencing my family/friends go through what Connor’s family/friends/acquaintances had to go through with Evan Hansen… NOPE, NOT ON MY WATCH! -Mitch Smietana

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