Dear Evan Hansen is just as bad as you think


Dear Evan Hansen premiered in theaters on Sep. 24.

Ash Reynolds, Clubs and Organizations Editor

In the nearly five years since its Broadway debut, “Dear Evan Hansen” has touched the lives of many, going on to win six Tony awards. 

Therefore, it was not a big surprise when the movie adaptation was brought to light. On Sep. 24, the “Dear Evan Hansen” movie was released in theaters.

However, it was not as well-received as the creators had hoped. 

One major factor that is always discussed when considering the film is Ben Platt’s portrayal of Evan. More specifically, Ben Platt’s age. 

On his own, Ben Platt’s age is not a major issue. However, when he is played opposite a cast that is almost entirely younger-looking, Platt looks extremely awkward and out of place.

While it is true that there are many more age-appropriate actors who could have played Evan beautifully, Platt’s age is the least of the worries people should have when watching the movie. 

The most notable problem with this film is the way it depicts mental illness.

It is known from one of the first scenes that Evan has severe social anxiety. While it is great to have a character, especially a main character, with mental illness as a part of their character, his anxiety is used in a distasteful way. 

Instead of being used as one aspect of a complex character, Evan’s social anxiety is displayed as his central personality traits. In addition, Evan’s actions are almost entirely blamed on his anxiety.

In the movie, Evan’s classmate Connor commits suicide, and Evan pretends as if they were best friends, going as far as creating fake emails pretending to be him. Evan is faced with little to no repercussions for these actions despite the fact he nearly broke a family apart in a feeble attempt to get a girl, who just so happens to be Connor’s sister. 

In the Broadway version, the song “Good For You” makes it clear that Evan is to blame. However, this song was cut from the movie, taking away the main evidence that Evan was not supposed to be a character to root for.

Going along with the theme of cut songs, the original opener “Anybody Have a Map?” was also cut, leaving “Waving Through a Window” as the new opener. While a powerful song on its own, this new opener does not have the same purpose as the old one.

In addition to the power it holds, “Anybody Have a Map?” plays an important role in the show: it sets the show up for an extreme shift in relationship between mother and son.

One of the main developments in the original “Dear Evan Hansen” is the change in relationship between Evan and Heidi, Evan’s mother. 

While the relationship is still seen through scenes depicting Heidi’s time-consuming job and the fights it causes with Evan, the lack of these major songs pushes this relationship to the background in favor of the one between Evan and Zoe, Connor’s sister.

Despite all of the clear issues, “Dear Evan Hansen” has a few redeeming qualities. One of the most important is the change in Alana’s character from the musical to the film.

In the musical, Alana is not extremely relevant to the story. She is displayed as a typical overachiever, and her only notable contributions are her role in The Connor Project and revealing Connor’s “suicide note” to the world.

However, in the movie, Alana is given more depth. She is shown to have similar mental health issues, which allows her to better connect with Evan. In addition, she gets her own song, “The Anonymous Ones,” and is the one to propose The Connor Project.

Another positive element of the film is the ending. 

When Evan’s web of lies is revealed to the Murphys, the family makes the decision to not expose Evan. However, Evan exposes himself, posting a video that explains what he had done. He also begins to reach out to people that knew Connor, learning about the boy, and even reading his favorite books.

While none of this excuses Evan’s actions in the slightest, it is refreshing to see that he finally wants to change, even if it is a few months too late.

Despite the few redeeming aspects, the “Dear Evan Hansen” movie adaptation was not as great as people had hoped. This movie should probably take advice from the musical and “Disappear.”