Tick, Tick…Boom! Review

Tick,Tick…Boom! is an autobiographical monologue written by late composer and creator of Rent, Jonathan Larson, about his journey living in New York as a musical artist in 2001.

Now in 2021 it was adapted into a film by Lin Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton and In The Heights. The film captures the details on Larsons life as it revolves through the film and though the recreated monologue performance.

Lin Manuel Miranda made his directorial debut with this film that he called his  “passion project” and reached out to Andrew Garfield, a famous movie star who starred in The Amazing Spiderman, to help him bring this project to life. The film included 11 songs in total which will all be reviewed by Brooke Bushong and My-Tran Vo. Spoilers ahead!

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I already knew this song pretty well, as it has blown up on tik tok, watching it in Tick Tick Boom was the first time I had ever really listened to it though, and they made me really sad. The song is about not wanting to grow up and feeling like time is running out, something that I’m sure every artist relates to, but aside from that I relate to it because of the pandemic. I feel like part of my childhood was taken by covid and that I’ve grown up so much faster than I want to or that my age doesn’t match my maturity level. 

The song catches you off guard because the tempo and rhythm is super upbeat but when you focus on the message you realize how depressing it is. It’s a great shower song, but also will make you ponder what you are going to do with your life.

In this song, I felt a sudden emotional attachment to it. The song starts off with rapid key notes that are followed by the singing of Garfield’s smooth voice. The song embodies the universal feeling of not wanting to grow up and live as an adult and how he’s going to turn 30 in the year 1990 and he still hasn’t made it successfully in the music industry (hence the title being 30/90). “They’re singing happy birthday, you just want to lay down and cry.”
The lyrics made multiple mentions to fairy tales such as Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz, which I believe, is such good irony of using kid stories to talk about growing up as shown in these lyrics, “Lost children, crocodiles, But you’re not into; Making choices, wicked witches; Poppy fields, or men behind the curtains; Tiger lilies, ruby slippers; Clock is ticking, that’s for certain.”
This song was extremely relatable to me as I don’t have a life plan either and I wish I didnt need one.

 






As you know Jonathan Larson also wrote Rent, and I could definitely tell when this song played. It is basically the same thing as another song called “La Vie Boheme,” in Rent. It’s all about the lifestyle of struggling artists and impoverished people in New York. They both also make it seem much more fun and glamorous than it actually is, but are also very honest at the same time. They are both also very funny, maybe because of their honesty. 

However, “La Vie Boheme” has a much better tune and is more ensemble based. Boho Days seems more like talky singing and it’s essentially just a really long monolog. 

During this song I was so interested in the background of what was happening. As I listened I noticed that what I was looking for was the sound of the instruments yet I didn’t hear any. I ended up realizing that it was an acapella and how unique it sounded. Garfield would sing as his co actors made the actor complete by harmonizing with him and creating beat noises in the background. The song glamorizes the poverty in New York as a result of trying to reach your dream. Boho Days was humorous and had a preppy beat to sugar coat the depressing meaning of the lyrics as shown, “The time is flying and everything is dying; I thought by now I’d have a dog, a kid, and wife; The ship is sort of sinking, so let’s start drinking.” It made me realize how the message of the whole song with both lyrics and music typee choice was that even though times are hard, you can still experience it with friends supporting you from behind.

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 In the movie this is an edited version played that just sounds really weird and random, but the actual song was supposed to be in the movie, but got cut. Upon looking at that version 2 completely different thoughts came into my mind:

Why was this cut? 

I can totally see why this was cut.

The song would feel kinda random and it wouldn’t serve much purpose other than showing the 2 character’s sex drive, but replacing it with the remix was an awful idea! The remix was weird and distracting from the film and it took me out of the world.

This song was a remix of the original song sung by Andrew Garfield and it was played as background music. The lyrics are extremely catchy but the melody differs when talking about which version. In the original recording the beat was quick like a love pop song that would stay in your mind for days. It was stuck in mine and I found myself singing the song randomly throughout the day. 

The official song that was played in the film was a remix which I didn’t like as much. The lyrics didn’t change but they had a different singer and different tempo. In this version this song was more of a sappy romance song, that was slow and steady. It matched the romantic scene of the characters Johnathan and his girlfriend,Susan, being together but I personally don’t like slow songs especially after I heard the upbeat version.

Every movie musical should take notes on this song. Lin Manuel Miranda did an amazing job of switching between the themes of the song and he did it in a way that would not have been possible on stage, but still made it theatrical.

The choreography was also amazing. It wasn’t like many things I have seen in musicals before, it was completely unique. I also thought this song was very fun and gave me an excited feeling while watching.

This song was about how Johnathan’s best friend, Micheal, is finally growing up, getting a real office job, and overall  moving up in the game of life but Johnathan is still in the same place he’s been in all his life which is a slump. The song switches between almost classical and angelic like singing about Michael’s new life but when they sing about their old apartment life, they use very heavy rock music to rant about it. It seems like a metaphor of a new life is soft and easy going while staying in your old life is rough and hard.

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This was my favorite song in the movie. The song is written in 3rd person and Johnathon refers to himself in the song as “Johnny.” The song is all about feeling lost and actually verbalized some things I’ve been feeling lately, that I could never put into words. 

Lyrically, this song is also very strong, which is new because Jonathon Larson (in my opinion), usually has very weak lyrics. But this made great use of literary devices like metaphor. My favorite lyric was “Ambition eats right through you” because I felt like that summarized a lot of Jonathan’s character throughout the movie. His life has been terrible throughout most of the movie and most of it is because of his own ambition and his stubbornness.

This song is noticeably in 3rd person which is a major shift since all the past songs have been in 1st person sung by Johnathan. This shift to me feels like he’s stopped listening to himself and now he has to depend on the outside world and their take on everything that hes facing. The name “Johnny” makes him seem childlike in this setting due to the fact that maybe he is seen as irresponsible for not being a “good” adult. The slow guitar strumming that plays throughout the song seems to show a sign that hes finally taking things slowly and calming down instead of head rushing into every possible situation. Throughout the song the lyric makes it clear that he has no guide and that he doesnt want to let go but hes starting to believe that he has to. This song made me feel extremely sad with how i know that this could be relatable to many different people. The struggle of having to give up your passion to live in a stable home is a fate that no artist wants to go through.

Watching this scene and song playout was basically the crossover event of the century for any Broadway fan. When I was watching it the first thing I noticed was André De Shields from Hadestown and I started freaking out. I then saw Lin Manuel Miranda (director of the movie and writer and star of Hamilton and In the Heights) and I rolled my eyes a bit. He has an annoying habit of inserting himself as an actor in any project he’s a part of, but I realized it was nothing like that when I saw Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bernadette Peters, Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry, all from famous Broadway shows. 

The song itself honestly was a little boring, but watching all these broadway stars sing together made it worth it 100%.

I personally love diner scenes in any movie since i just love diners and the aesthetic of breakfast foods in a calm setting. This scene made me so happy just seeing it unravel and watching the characters come and go. The first cameo i noticed was Lin Manuel Miranda which I found extremely hilarious due to the fact that hes known for adding himself into whatever hes creating. As the scene continued, my jaw dropped. They had cameos of some of the biggest broadway stars today acting as diner customers. Phillipa Soo and Renee Elise Goldbery,stars of Hamilton the Musical, were featured along side Miranda and I felt my Broadway phase coming back to haunt me again. This scene made me extremely nostalgia with all the famous broadway stars all in one place again pre-covid. The song was slow paced and calm that fully matched the aesthetic of a Sunday morning in a local diner.

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This song was the perfect representation of getting in a small argument with someone and trying not to step on their toes too much, and eventually have it blow up into a huge deal. The singers felt like they were tiptoeing over each other and being super specific with their words but eventually they sang at the same time and the song became organized chaos. 

I also loved how in the movie cut between Jonathon’s argument with Susan and the song. It was something that couldn’t have been done as easily in a stage performance and I just loved it so much. 

The song starts off slow and quiet then speeded up to a whole song with choreography that felt like a country ho-down instead of what it was meant to be; a dramatic argument that would eventually lead to a break up. The song showed 2 characters fighting over lack of communication that would soon lead to something worse blowing up. The song had such amazing wordplay like in these lyrics:  “Yes, I know, that now you know: That I didn’t know, that you didn’t know:”That when I said “No”, I meant “Yes, I know” The constant back and forth between the two singers was comedic and it definitely showed off the two actors vocal skills. They had a choreographed routine of the two of them which played in between actual fighting scenes between Johnathan and Susan (his girlfriend at the time) and it really messed with my emotions on how i was worried for the state of their relationship but the choreography had me so invested that i couldn’t decide what to focus on the most.

Jonathan Larson has a very unique writing style, it’s so simple that if it wasn’t written perfectly, it could almost be viewed as dumb and I thought this song brought it out. Singing “wet hair” constantly in the way he does shouldn’t work but somehow it does.

I really loved the intensity of this song. The song makes me feel the same way as when I am trying really hard not to think about something. 

The song shifts when Jonathan is looking at the pool floor and it turns into sheet music. It is such a beautiful moment and I think it captures how you think when an idea pops into your head. It’s like a moment of clarity. It is really nice in this movie too, because we haven’t had many calm moments. Most of it is filled with Jonathon stressing about his future and it was nice to see him not freaking out for once. 

The song started off with the strum of an electric guitar and i was instantly hooked. The song revolves around Johnathan going to swim to ignore the fact that Susan and him were having problems and that he was still having artist’s block. The first lyric was “I hate this locker room, why wont Susan answer my calls?” and i felt a chill go down my spine. I suddenly related to the song. I swim as well and i usually do it as a way to blow off steam or to just simply relax. All he could do in this time to crisis for home as to just swim back and forth in the cold water. Soon in this scene, the black line on the bottom of the pool slowly merged and became music lines and notes that became the inspiration forJohnathan to write his new song. I loved this scene so much since i consider the black line at the bottom of the pool to be most important. For me personally i look down at the line as i swim since i find it therapeutic and other swimmers find it meditative as well. Jonathan found inspiration from this therapeutic line which i find to be ironic since this was the first scene after “Therapy” which was Johnathan’s and Susan’s big fight.

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I loved the different actresses in this song and I loved how their voices blended together so easily. I also thought Andrew’s acting was amazing, nonetheless I really disliked this scene. It just showed one of the main problems of this film. None of the women in this movie have full and developed characters and that is brought to a new extreme when the movie has 2 love interests singing to Jonathon about him and his problems and not about themselves at all. Looking back I realized that I do not know a single thing about Susan other than she is a dancer. Her personality was stale and she was really just there for Jonathon’s character. 

Despite that, I found myself humming it over and over again and I couldn’t get it out of my head. The song itself is just so beautiful and the voices in it are magical that it is hard not to like. 

This song was the song that Johnathan finally wrote after overcoming his artist block and it proved to be worth it. This song seemed like another song that a love sick man would write but as the song goes on it shows that he isnt just love sick but hes still adding details of how hes still struggling with this whole art musical career. The song is sung by his now ex girlfriend Susan, and a singer he hired to perform the song. The singing switches between the two as Johnathan watches his story be told through them.

I hate this song. It literally says the same words over and over again and it just feels pointless. In the movie a monologe Jonathon says is played over it, but I don’t think that makes any sense. The song should be about Micheal and Micheal’s feelings, after all he is the one with AIDS. The scene just makes it all about Jonathon’s emotions and makes Jonathon look super selfish and self centered.

In this song we discover that Micheal is dying of Aids. Johnathan soon realizes that real life isnt  just working to be better but that life is short and you could die at any moment like all his other friends who are dying before 30. I think that Johnathan was immature in this scene since he was complaining about his life being too short even though he already outlived majority of his friend group which lead Micheal to revealing his diagnosis. This was more of a monolog of Johnathan just spiraling and questioning the why the way the world was. In all honesty it just showed how he mainly worried about himself even though most of his problems couldve been avoided and all his friends problems were set in stone by fate.

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This song was one of the most beautiful songs in the whole movie. To me it sounded a bit like a lullaby and combined with Andrew Garfield’s acting it was amazing. 

The flashback portion was beautiful and it made me feel so nostalgic for when I was younger and did community theater. The song made me remember everyone I had ever lost in my life and by the end I was crying like a baby.

This song was after Johnathan finally pulled off the show he worked so hard on. The only problem was this was the moment he realized that everything he worked for was just a good job. It wasn’t a nicer home or the ability to pay the bills. It was just aa good job and some more compliments as he realized that all his hard work was only worth a compliment. This was extremely relatable to me when im at school. Sometimes students work so hard and all though it pays off in the long run, its disappointing to be only told good job and to go through the cycle of hard work all over again.

The film overall was extremely touching and it is a must watch for every film lover. It displayed such good story telling with the soundtrack and cinematography. Lin Manuel Miranda and Andrew Garfield did an amazing job bringing Johnathan Larson’s story to life in the most artistic way imagineable.