Dear Evan Hansen falls flat


Universal Studios

Dear Evan hansen was one of the biggest Broadway shows since Hamilton. It has recently received a movie adaptation, but is it as remarkable as the source material?

Justin Dobski, Business and Marketing Manager

Content Warnings: Suicide, Anxiety, and Depression

Dear Evan Hansen is one of the most popular musicals of the 21st century. It has received a novel adaption and as of September 24, 2021, it received a movie adaption with an all-star cast. Dear Evan Hansen is a musical about mental health and the role it has in the life of high school students. The musical sets the bar high for the movie, but it just doesn’t seem to uphold the expectations of fans.

Dear Evan Hansen is directed by Stephen Chbosky and written by Steven Levenson. DEH is rated PG-13 and available on HBO Max and will soon be added to Peacock in a few months.

The film tells the story of an anxiety-ridden high school student named Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) who lives with his mother Heidi (Julianne Moore). Evan becomes wrapped up in a lie after a classmate named Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) kills himself. After a series of miscommunications, Connor’s parents believe that the two were close friends. Evan goes along with this lie as a chance to have a real family and connect with his crush Zoe Murphy (Kaitlyn Dever), Connor’s sister.

Plot-wise, the movie doesn’t stray too far from the musical. However, the movie does remove some of the songs of the musical such as, Anybody Have a Map, Disappear, To Break in a Glove, and Good For You. Without these songs, some parts of the musical feel less notable and could be left out of the movie.

However, the movie does add two new songs. Anonymous Ones,  sung by Amanda Stenberg, really adds character depth to Alana Beck (Amanda Stenberg) who in the musical felt like a minor character, even though she was supposed to be a major character. The other new song of the movie is A Little Closer sung by Finneus. This song added lots of catharsis to Connor’s death and replaced the song Finale from the musical.

The remaining songs from the musical such as Waving Through a Window, Sincerely Me, and Requiem, were for the most part identical to the musical, with the main difference being the different cast (with the exception of Ben Platt reprising his original role of Evan). This felt strange, because Platt is now in his late twenty, and it is strange to see only him returning to the film. The visible age difference breaks the illusion of the characters being in their late teens.

The film did have its flaws, the dialogue between the characters felt dry and bland during many scenes. A lot of these scenes were at parts where the original songs were removed. These scenes felt like they were supposed to be emotional but because of the writing, it lacked what it needed to truly make the audience sympathize with the characters. During a scene between Larry Murphy and Evan Hansen where they discuss Connor and Larry’s relationship when Larry first moved in with Cynthia. In the musical, Larry sang To Break in a Glove, but in the musical Larry and Evan have a small talk between the two of them about the relationship between a father and son.

Dear Evan Hansen excelled at its unique take on using flashbacks during songs. During Anonymous Ones, there is a flashback to the opening scene of the movie through Alana’s perspective. Another flashback scene in the movie shows Evan developing feelings for Zoe during If I Could Tell Her. These flashbacks added a lot of emotion to the characters and their pasts and backgrounds.

Dear Evan Hansen had a lot of potential for a movie adaptation but didn’t follow through with what fans were expecting from one of the most popular musicals of the decade. For those who are a fan of musicals, Dear Evan Hansen is a good movie to watch. Dear Evan Hansen is a great movie to watch with both family and friends but is not appropriate for younger audiences due to the sensitive topics of the film. If you enjoy movies like Heathers, Hamilton, or even the show 13 Reasons Why will enjoy Dear Evan Hansen. However, do not expect too much from the movie if you are already familiar with or a diehard fan of the play.