“tick, tick . . . BOOM!” Has Its Viewers’ Hearts Racing


Poster for the movie, “tick… tick… BOOM!”

By Katelin Chong, Arts and Entertainment Editor

For fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical works, such as “Hamilton,” “In the Heights” and “Moana,” “tick, tick . . . BOOM!” is a must-watch. The musical features numerous familiar actors and actresses, including Andrew Garfield, who plays the lead character Jonathan Larson, and Vanessa Hudgens as Karessa Johnson. Broadway fans will surely recognize more stars who make numerous appearances throughout the film.

The opening song of the musical is “30/90,” and in my opinion, it is a phenomenal way to kick it off. It introduces the audience to Garfield’s skilled singing, which he specifically learned for this role. “30/90” is a really catchy song and introduces an important theme for the rest of the film — running out of time. One of the lyrics state, “Year’s are getting shorter // The lines on your face are getting longer // Feel like you’re treading water // But the riptide’s getting stronger.”

Feeling rushed and out of time are thoughts Jonathan struggles with throughout his career, depicted perfectly by his mannerisms and the lyrics to his songs. I think Garfield did a great job at accurately portraying Larson’s personality and how he dealt with the numerous difficulties thrown at him.

Fans should keep in mind that “tick, tick . . . BOOM!” is based on real events. Jonathan Larson was a real composer and actor who lived through the events shown in the movie, making the experience while watching it much more impactful. Some of the scenes were very eye-opening — they show the struggles Larson faced as an artist who was having troubles with money, doing his best to balance his work and social life.

“tick, tick . . . BOOM!” covers numerous serious topics as well, including the AIDS epidemic and LGBTQ+. Both are mainly shown through Jonathan’s best friend, Michael, played by Robin de Jesús. He depicts the hardships of being a gay man in 1990’s New York, and I think the movie did a great job of helping the audience understand just how difficult it was. Although Jonathan was his best friend for over two decades, even he could not fully understand his situation, showing how alone Michael and other people in his situation must have felt. I was incredibly moved during his solo in the song “Real Life” — personally, it showed me the raw emotions Michael felt and how hard it was to deal with them alone, seeing that his closest friend was unable to fully get his problems.

I am usually not one for musicals, but “tick, tick . . . BOOM!” really struck me. The songs were all greatly written — some were more lighthearted while others had much deeper meanings. I highly recommend this musical to anyone who has a bit of free time and is interested in the true life of a talented artist.