Dear Evan Hansen review – ghoulish Ben Platt sinks high school musical
The film adaptation of the Tony-winning musical can’t overcome its 27-year-old star’s creepy teen makeup and the story’s wobbly handling of mental health
There are two major issues that Dear Evan Hansen, the film adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical, cannot overcome. First, the decision to have Ben Platt reprise his Tony-winning performance as Evan Hansen in the film, the only original cast member to do so. (It seems relevant to mention that Platt’s father is a producer on the film; as Platt said earlier this year in defense of the casting: “Were I not to do the movie, it probably wouldn’t get made.”) It would’ve been one thing for the film-makers to have asked audiences to suspend disbelief that the 27-year-old Platt was actually a geeky high school senior – a little annoying, but fine, as almost every teen movie demands that anyway (see: Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls, Jesse Metcalfe in John Tucker Must Die, both in their late 20s). But the team behind Dear Evan Hansen put Platt in prosthetics and opaque, pasty makeup, along with a curly mop of hair, that strands the actor firmly in the uncanny valley. But the attempt to make Platt seem younger somehow renders him both older and inhuman – an act of near-sabotage so distracting it basically renders the movie unrecoverable.