Movie Review: “Dear Evan Hansen” (spoilers!)

The movie rendition of the popular Broadway musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was released in theatres on September 24 to varying acclaim and critical opinion. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see Hollywood’s take on this influential musical.

Like many musical lovers, I was very hesitant to see the movie rendition of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. They kept Ben Platt as the main character Evan Hansen (thank goodness) but they replaced all the other characters with different actors for the movie, most of which aren’t known for having amazing singing voices. Because of that, the audience misses out on some of the best songs in the show (in my opinion) like ‘Anybody Have A Map?’ sung by the moms played by Rachel Bay Jones and Jennifer Laura Thompson in the Broadway show and ‘Good For You’ sung by Jones, Kristolyn Lloyd who played brainiac Alana, and Will Roland, who played Evan’s “friend” Jared.

One thing that I really had a problem with was how they portrayed Jared, who only hangs out with Evan because they’re “family friends”.

Jared is a classmate of Hansen’s who helps him write the fake emails between him and Connor Murphy to prove that they were friends before Murphy killed himself. In the Broadway version of the musical, Jared acts as Hansen’s conscience and questions the motive behind his deceptive actions throughout the duration of the performance.

However, they made some changes to his character in the movie. First, they casted Nik Dodani as Jared, who is an actor of color. The original cast of the Broadway version of ‘DEH’ was fairly white so this was a good change. In one of his first lines in the movie, Jared says something alluding to him being gay. I understand the want to make him queer for representation’s sake, but what I don’t understand is then making Jared less important to the plot of the movie. 

After Jared and Hansen write the emails in the movie, Jared becomes just a face reacting to things that Hansen does. When Hansen is giving his speech about Murphy in the auditorium, Jared is sitting in the sound booth. When Murphy’s suicide note (aka Hansen’s assignment from his therapist) is released online, we just see Jared looking at it on his phone. We only really see him and Hansen interacting directly again when they’re posing for graduation photos. Maybe I’m not seeing it right but I really don’t get making Jared’s character more diverse but then cutting him out of the story.