Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about to talk about the big screen adaptation of the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen,” the Melissa McCarthy dramedy “The Starling” and the Mark Wahlberg family drama “Joe Bell.”
“Dear Evan Hansen,” the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award winning Broadway musical, is a mixed bag. The coming-of-age story of a misunderstanding that takes on a life of its own, has moments of pure emotion but is often sidelined by clunky presentation.
Ben Platt reprises his Tony winning role as Evan Hansen, a high school outcast with a history of Social Anxiety Disorder. His loving-but-absent nurse mom (Julianne Moore) encourages him to put himself out there and meet new people, but his nerves always get the best of him. Even his only friend Jared (Nik Dodani, who provides much needed comic relief) makes it clear that he only speaks to Evan because their mothers are friends.
Evan’s therapist has him write daily Stuart “Doggone It, People Like Me!” Smiley style affirmations, letters addressed Dear Evan Hansen, followed by paragraphs of “Today is going to be a good day,” style declarations. When one of his letters is taken by troubled classmate Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan), Evan worries it will end up on-line, bringing humiliation and ridicule. Instead, the letter takes on a life in a way Evan could never have imagined when Connor dies by suicide.
Connor’s parents, Cynthia and Larry (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) find the note and assume it is Connor’s last words to his best friend. “He wrote it to you,” Cynthia says. “These the words he wanted to share with you.” It’s not true, of course. Evan barely knew Connor, but he goes along with it to make the parents feel better. “I’ve never seen anyone so sad,” Evan says of Cynthia.
The misunderstanding—OK, let’s call it a lie—grows as Evan becomes close to the Murphys, and even begins to fake evidence of his relationship with Connor. The parents want to learn about their son through Evan, and he likes the warmth of the family and he likes their daughter Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) even more.
At a high school memorial for Connor, Evan’s speech (actually a song) inspires people, goes viral, and, for the Murphys, gives meaning to Connor’s short life. But Evan’s on-line popularity is short-lived when people start asking questions about his friendship with the dead boy.
The flashy staging of the Broadway era “Dear Evan Hansen” is gone, replaced by a stripped down, more naturalistic treatment. That works well for Dever, Moore, Amandla Stenberg who plays student council dynamo Alana and Adams, who is the movie’s heart and soul, all of whom hand in warm, authentic performances. The effectiveness of Platt’s work is sometimes undone with work that feels as though it belongs on a stage and not the more intimate medium of film. His embodiment of teenage angst, the hunched over shoulders and doleful eyes, plays to the back of the house, breaking
There is a long history of twenty-somethings playing high schoolers in movies, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Platt, at age twenty-seven, is just outside the window to effectively play his signature teenage character under the camera’s scrutiny. Occasionally his moony-eyed reveries, directed at Zoe, come across as creepy, not sweetly romantic.
Still, there are moments of undeniable power in “Dear Evan Hansen.” The transitions from dialogue to song aren’t always smooth, but the songs pack a punch. “Only Us,” Dever’s duet with Platt, understatedly plucks at the heartstrings and Stenberg’s “The Anonymous Ones,” a new song for the film, transcends the melodrama of the story with a beautiful recounting of the film’s themes of grief and loneliness. As it was on stage “You Will Be Found,” with the repeated line, “You are not alone,” is a show stopper.
It is a shame then, that a movie with potent moments ultimately feels like the titular character is guilty of exploiting Connor and his family. The movie acknowledges this, but it still doesn’t generate the kind of empathy for Evan necessary to make the film work on a deeper level.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including “Spirit Untamed,” the twenty-years-in-the-making sequel to “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” the Netflix pandemic series “Sweet Tooth” and the biographical film “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr, Ulric Cross,” available at the Cineplex Store.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the inspirational horse movie “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It,” the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm” and the biopic “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Jennifer Burke chat up the weekend’s big releases, the inspirational horse movie “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the inspirational horse movie “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It,” the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm” and the biopic “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the family friendly Dreamworks animated film “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm.”
It’s been almost two decades since the adventures of a Kiger Mustang stallion named Spirit were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” lost to another spirited entry, “Spirited Away” from Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki, but spawned a cottage industry in the form of television shows and video games.
This weekend the headstrong horse goes on another feature length DreamWorks Animation adventure in “Spirit Untamed.” Now playing in theatres, it’s a re-imagined version of the television series “Spirit Riding Free.”
First some background.
Lucky Prescott’s (Isabela Merced) mother Milagro was a fearless horse trick rider from Miradero, a small town in America’s Wild West.
Milagro’s legend looms large in Lucky’s imagination, but she never got to know her. After her mother’s death, Lucky was raised on the East Coast by Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore), a straightlaced woman who struggled with his niece’s inherited wild side.
When Lucky pushes her luck too far, Aunt Cora decides the youngster needs stability in the form of her father, Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the family home in sleepy little Miradero.
Life in the small town doesn’t sit well with Lucky until she meets her kindred spirit, a wild Mustang who shares her independent streak. The horse, Spirit, is the leader of a herd of wild stallions who become the target of animal poachers led by the evil Hendricks (Walton Goggins).
In an effort to save the horses from a life of captivity and hard labor Lucky recruits two local horseback riders, Abigail Stone (Mckenna Grace) and Pru Granger (Marsai Martin), and embarks on a rescue mission.
“Spirit Untamed” contains good messages about independence but also about being connected to a larger community. Lucky and Spirit are, well, spirited in their own ways but their true strength lies in their respect for the people and horses around them.
It is a simply told story of empowerment that doesn’t gallop over any new ground but, hackneyed though the message may be, it’s still an important one for younger viewers.
The big-eyed Margaret Keanesque character animation is nicely rendered, accompanied by energetic voice work, and should appeal to fans of the original. Younger viewers, who may not have been around when the original made a stir, could find parallels between this and the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise.
With “Cruella” taking a dark turn, “Spirit Untamed” is the best family flick of the season.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including “Spiral,” the next chapter of the “Saw” franchise, the Amy Adams Netflix thriller “The Woman in the Window,” the non rom com “Together Together” with Ed Helms.