tick, tick… BOOM! Review

Andrew Garfield sitting with a piano as the Chatter Box Film yellow and back text box with subheading Review

tick, tick… BOOM! Movie by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is a fantastic musical performance!

Andrew Garfield’s talents shine through in this deeply moving tribute to Jonathan Larson. Read more about the review!


This is a movie based on Jonathan Larson’s autiobographical musical with the same name and as mentioned in the movie “everything you’re about to see is true. Except for the parts Jonathan made up”.

Jonathan Larson struggles in the 1990’s while turning 30; To bring his music to broadway; so the shows don’t end up being workshopped, and this is performed well right in the beginning with the song 30/90.

Working hard at a diner to survive in New York City, all while looking and hoping for that big break with his Superbia performances. Years later, Jonathan sadly passed away before the first nights preview of Rent.

This is a tribute to Jonathan Larson’s life and Career, as well what was happening with his connections to his friends and loved ones. There is also a subplot about his friends struggling during the AIDS/HIV epidemic; that was subject to media and politicial scrutiny during the 90’s.

The themes in the movie cover love, heartbreak, frustration, anxiety and finally some clarity.

Larson in the movie mentions: “Lately, I’ve been hearing this sound. Everywhere I go, like a tick, tick, tick..” there’s a very frequent tick, tick sound throughout. As well as this being in reference to the title. This emphasis is also on time and how much we have left of it; to do the things that we need to do. 

Andrew Garfield’s talent shines brighter than ever before! As he portrays the main character: Jonathan Larson. Garfield expresses his vocal range and this is incredible, versatile and a refreshing surprise; oh, he can definitely sing! His voice touches heartstrings with every note that he hits, and is deeply moving the plot forward!

Alexandra Shipp as Susan, has an amazing double-scened duet with Vanessa Hudgen’s character Karessa for the song Come to your Senses. At first it seems like the perfomance wasn’t going to work in terms of context, as it’s the on-screen character singing meaningful while an on-screen performer is also trying to perform the same intentions of Susan’s lyrics towards a love for Larson. The harmonies pay off and both singers are delivering  heart-wrenching and powerful perfomances. Combined with the light piano tones and steady drum pacing with a subtle accoustic guitar and electric guitar. Perfect!

Andrew Garfield performs visual narration scenes throughout the movie to build up context between each performance. This also compliments the main acting segments and contrasts sad moments in Jonathan’s life and the upbeat performances for an energetic duet song such as No More between Jonathan and Michael.

More visuals are also interesting when presenting footage as if it were filmed in the 90’s, Similar to how the real Jonathan Larson had his performances recorded on a cam-recorder. This style is only used in brief selected scened. There is also Very clever and subtle vfx moments that are used during the Swimming song scenes, where musical notes are in the deep end of of the pool.

Robin de Jesús is already naturally experienced for the role as he appeared in the musical show Rent in 2005. His performance is dramatic and powerful as Michael, especially for the song Real Life.

Beautiful solo performances from Andrew. Especially in the song Why that pays tribute to spending time with his [Larson’s] dear friend Michael. 

The movie captured the vibe of the 90’s so well and feels very relatable still to this day; especially for those in the creative industry who are trying to make it work.

The movie is a very touching tribute to Jonathan Larson, with outstanding performances from all of the cast throughout. tick, tick… BOOM! a highly recommended watch!

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Steven Soper
Steven Soper

Owner/Editor-in-Chief/Writer/Social Media for the Chatter Box Film website. Follow @chatterboxfilm on Twitter.

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