Tick Tick Boom Review

Yasmin Sustaita, MVC writer and photographer

I recently watched “Tick Tick Boom,” a Netflix original film, because of  its one year anniversary of being out on Netflix.

After the film first came out on Netflix, TikTok was overrun with several videos discussing songs, the film, Jonathan Larson’s life, and also just videos including Larson’s music.

I think “Tick Tick Boom” is a wonderful film showcasing Jonathon Larson’s life and struggles with play writing. This movie covers parts of his life like how he was struggling working on musicals like “Superbia” and “Rent,” and his life of trying to get out of his crowded apartment complex to make his way up in life. However, the film also shows how close he was to people, how unlike many that aspire for a higher goal tend to be arrogant, while Larson has almost a family/friend like bond with the people he talks to such as his neighbors and the people at the restaurant he goes to. The film then finishes with Larson slowly losing his friends due to his career/hopes to further his career of playwriting.

 The film’s writing and acting was amazing, especially the way they mimicked the way the real Jonathon Larson showcased his songs, specifically the song “ Therapy,”  helped elevate the show for me. I loved the way the scene cut from Jonathon and Susan fighting in the film to Andrew Garfield and Vannessa Hugdens performing “Therapy,” the same way Jonathon Larson had also performed “Therapy” in real life.  

Another thing I enjoyed about the film was the amazing visuals. Like how in “Swimming”  the visuals show the sudden music idea Jonathon gets while swimming. Not only that but also the music goes from thinking about so much at the same time, to one slow thought about what it is he wants to do for his next song, and his marvel at the sudden idea.

I enjoyed the way the film was written; the story was written in such a way that did not feel rushed. The film felt like it was happening in a well-timed manner, from the beginning of the film. The film shows how happy and hopeful he was hanging around with his friends and roommates. Towards the middle of the show, it transitions slowly into showing dread and a sort of feeling as if he was going to give up on his musical. Finally, it ends with his friend’s diagnosis, he and his girlfriend’s fight over seemingly not being able to fit into each other’s world, and finally his devastating news over his musical not even being produced.

The music itself was wonderful. With the depth the lyrics show, especially in “ Louder Than Words,”  when Andrew Garfield sings “Cages or wings, which do you prefer?” or “What does it take? To wake up a generation.” Not only that, but the flow of the music and lyrics themselves also sounded great, like in the reprise of, “Louder Than Words,” where towards the end it slowly transitions into the popular and most used happy birthday instrumental. 

I enjoyed the way the film was portraying not only Larson’s struggles, but it showed his friend’s struggle, with how his friend “Michael” ( Matt O’Grady) rose to a higher placement in his life only to then be diagnosed HIV positive, which at the time was called a death-sentence. Not only that, but O’Grady ended up living longer than his friend, Larson, in the end.

In all, I would highly recommend “Tick Tick Boom” to anyone who enjoys anything Andrew Garfield stars in, films based on true stories, or musicals in general. I believe that “Tick Tick Boom” did a wonderful job with Larson’s musical, with the visuals, the writing and casting. Everyone did a phenomenal job with the film.