Dear Evan Hansen movie ridiculed after world premiere in Toronto
Should we be surprised that during these divided times, and when audiences are finally getting back to attending films in person, that the responses to a film would expose some of the fractures in society?
Who would have thought it would be Dear Evan Hansen, the Tony Award winning musical that's been adapted for the big screen, would cause such a ruckus?
The movie screened on Thursday as the official opening night film of this year's Toronto International Film Festival. It's an honour that more often than not is given to a film that fails to live up to expectations or somehow misses the mark and this year we were right on trend.
#TIFF21 movie 2: DEAR EVAN HANSEN— Karl Delossantos @ TIFF 2021 (@karl_delo) September 9, 2021
Undoubtedly the worst musical I have ever seen. Overwrought and emotionless at the same time. Borderline offensive about trauma and mental illness. It’s like it spun a wheel of trauma a hundred times and added every option. Jail to everyone. pic.twitter.com/1sBMyJupfe
Stars of the film turned out for the red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall which was at 50 per cent of its usual capacity due to social distancing restrictions.
The cast of DEAR EVAN HANSEN found on the #TIFF21 red carpet.— TIFF Press & Industry (@TIFF_Industry) September 10, 2021
📸 Getty/Emma McIntyre pic.twitter.com/CA3q4TZU5c
Mayor John Tory and TIFF co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente were there along with cast members Ben Platt and Julianne Moore among others.
My own take on Dear Evan Hansen is that it's a solid B/B+ film, taking the best of the musical and providing a story that's complex and emotionally effective, especially as it shines a light beyond the central characters upon those that take up causes after the fact and use social media as a cudgel.
Some people actually agreed with me.
So #DearEvanHansen definitely tried to fix the issues that a lot of people had with it. Not sure if it totally worked but the music still slaps and it was gorgeously shot. Had a few extra bits but still stuck to the spirit of the OG musical.— ✨Kristen @ #TIFF21✨ (@ThatNerdGurl_) September 10, 2021
8/10 ⭐️ #TIFF21
Seems my mild praise served as a nice, viral-worth contrast to others that were slightly more...heated?
While there are legions of fans of the original musical, there are those quick to point out that Dear Evan Hansen was always awful so expectations should have been muted.
So many people coming out of the woodwork to declare they have never liked Dear Evan Hansen but never said anything because so many others shamed them for it! #DearEvanHansen pic.twitter.com/aLwETnpaAA— Amber Leigh (@AmberLeighVO) September 11, 2021
The main criticism of the movie is that Ben Platt looks far too old to be playing a High School student.
I know adults playing high schoolers is kind of a trope, but I’m supposed to empathize with 27 year old Ben Platt as a high schooler? Look at him, he looks less like a student and more like he placed sixth at a Fred Armisen impersonation contest he accidentally wandered into. pic.twitter.com/umBF6WVJN6— Elijah Pykiet (@ElijahShawnP) September 11, 2021
During press for the film, the cast responded to complaints, particularly those about the age of the cast (Platt and Nik Donani are 27, Kaitlyn Dever is 24, all playing seventeen year-old students as per tradition.)
“Has no one seen ‘Grease’?”— Variety (@Variety) September 10, 2021
Amandla Stenberg reacts to the social media discourse around #DearEvanHansen star Ben Platt’s age. https://t.co/1o6fbWjjYO | Variety Studio at #TIFF presented by @CanadaGoose pic.twitter.com/RqXYLVirlx
There were also questions about Platt's hair.
Everything makeup and hair did to make ben platt look young absolutely backfired. He doesn’t even look like himself in some parts of the trailer. I don’t care that he’s 28 I care they made him look so different. 😵💫 pic.twitter.com/LoVra1RTbD— 🧘♀️Downward Facing Vaccinated Bitch🧘♀️ (@EOverload) September 10, 2021
Not every reviewer got it right the first time, so some had to dial back some of their most hyperbolic negative sentiments.
My new favorite article correction #DearEvanHansen pic.twitter.com/1fN238jBCM— K.J. Yossman (@KJYossman) September 10, 2021
Beyond the back and forth between fans and detractors, many chose to take the middle ground, even if as always that's a rare sentiment to post publicly.
Forgot to say this yesterday but, I saw #DearEvanHansen at #tiff21 and it actually ended up being okay for it. It’s equal parts frustrating in terms of writing and character moments but, also very emotional by the end. One thing for sure, I’m so glad to be back in the fest! pic.twitter.com/6LvMstWXhh— Hussain Alokaily (@H_Alokaily2) September 10, 2021
With some deciding this was the worst film musicals of all time, there were some that provided a comparison to remind of the last time things got heated on this front:
Dear Evan Hansen is the new Cats. #DearEvanHansenMovie #DearEvanHansen #Cats— Dee (@CottonDex) September 10, 2021
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