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re: Random question re the DEH film - possible spoilers
Last Edit: WaymanWong 09:53 pm EDT 10/07/21
Posted by: WaymanWong 09:40 pm EDT 10/07/21
In reply to: Random question re the DEH film - broadwaybacker 10:08 am EDT 10/07/21

It's hard to imagine that Universal would've greenlit ''Dear Evan Hansen'' if it hadn't been a Tony Award-winning musical of great acclaim. Studios are risk-averse, so an original movie musical, already a challenging proposition, would've been a tough sell without the prestige or imprimatur it had. Produced on a moderate budget, ''Dear Evan Hansen'' probably looked like a likely Oscar contender. Even though ''Dear Evan Hansen'' was a film adaptation of a Broadway hit, and eagerly awaited by its multitude of fans, many viewers (and critics) WERE hearing the score and experiencing the story for the first time. And the biggest surprise to me is the virulent blowback to the movie's plot, which seems to have blindsided its studio.

Many critics heard the show was big on Broadway, but they seemed surprised by what it was: the problematic story of a troubled teen who lies to the grieving family of a suicide victim. (I can't recall any of the theater critics having issues with that.) Maybe it's also due to the difference between theater and movies. At the Music Box, there was a distance of artifice between the stage and the audience, and it was much easier for Ben Platt to pass for a teenager. But onscreen, the camera's closeups are unsparing and the reality that film demands, invited a sharper scrutiny of the story.

I've never seen a more divisive reaction between a stage musical and its screen adaptation. There are those who love ''Dear Evan Hansen'' to bits and feel it perfectly captures the alienated and misunderstood soul they sympathized and cried with on Broadway. And there are those who hate this character they find morally irresponsible and are outraged by what they consider to be the movie's tonedeaf depiction of mental health.
Link 'Dear Evan Hansen': What Media Gets Wrong About Mental Health (video)
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