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  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

New Movie, Dear Evan Hansen, a Bit Schmaltzy, Predictable and Depressing

Shelly and I went to a special showing of the new movie, "Dear Evan Hansen." It's about a friendless, unpopular, depressed and anxiety-filled high school senior (Evan Hansen) who has a chance encounter with a friendless, unpopular, drug-addled high school senior (Connor Murphy). Murphy signs his name on the cast Hansen has on his broken wrist. Then Murphy finds a letter on the library printer Hansen wrote to himself as part of a therapy assignment. The letter, titled "Dear Evan Hansen," references Murphy's sister Zoe. Murphy erupts in anger and storms off. Later that day, the troubled Murphy takes his own life. Hansen's letter is found on him and his parents assume it's Murphy's suicide note written to Hansen. The parent's further assume that Hansen was Murphy's only friend, and they glom on to him, constantly querying him for memories about their deceased son. Hansen's "friendship" with Murphy goes viral at the school and on the Internet, and he suddenly becomes popular as the caring friend, and he spins a web of lies that haunt him.

I was surprised when the movie opened with a musical number sung by Hansen, followed by a dozen or so other songs sung by the cast. It turns out "Dear Evan Hansen" is a Broadway show, and this is the screen adaptation.

The theme of the story is how every teenager has degrees of anxiety and social awkwardness, and how each handles it differently, some well, and some not so well. Everything comes crashing down on Hansen as the truth, that he was not Murphy's friend, comes to light.

I found the movie to be as socially awkward as a teenager. The relationships were superficial (as they were based on a core of lies) and predictable, many of the songs were so similar that I got tired of hearing them, and everyone is disappointed and sad in the end. The trailer claims "it's a musical love letter to all who feel alone." The message, about overcoming the social obstacles of being an outsider, never materializes. I came out of the movie a bit depressed and anxious; it's not a very uplifting movie, and I give it a 5 out of 10 stars.

Here's the trailer.

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