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.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Aladdin,” “Booksmart” and a doc about the life and times of a Canadian legend, “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the live action remake of “Aladdin,” the wild and wooly “Booksmart” and a doc about the life and times of a Canadian legend, “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including Will Smith in the live action remake of “Aladdin,” the wild and wooly “Booksmart” and a doc about the life and times of a Canadian legend, “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
Four hundred years ago when Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true,” he could not have imagined that his words would provide the bedrock of a raucous teen comedy and yet here we are. “Booksmart,” Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut, is both high and low brow, touching and sentimental in its look at female friendship.
Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are best friends. Inseparable, they are class president and vice-president, Michelle Obama acolytes who listen to self-empowerment tapes. “You’ve worked harder than anyone and that’s why you are a champion. Stand at the top of the mountain of your success and look down on everyone who has ever doubted you.” Molly is a perfectionist who corrects the grammar on bathroom wall graffiti while Amy is off to Botswana to “help women make tampons.”
On the eve of their high school graduation, they have Yale and Columbia in their sights but when Molly realizes her slacker schoolmates are also going to Ivy League schools she isn’t happy. “We chose to study so we could get into good schools,” she says. “They didn’t choose.” After semesters of prioritizing academics over socializing they attempt to cram four years of fun into one night. “Nobody knows we are fun,” Molly says. “We are smart and fun. What took them four years were doing in one night.”
There’s only one big problem; they don’t have the address of the hip graduation party and no one is answering their texts. “We have never hung out with any of these people except academically,” Amy says. “They probably think we’re calling about school.” After some misadventures on a tricked-out yacht and at a murder mystery party they use their academic skills. “How will we find out where next party is? By doing what we do best, homework.”
“We are 8A+ people and we need an A+ party.”
The plot synopsis of “Booksmart” sounds like it could have been lifted from any number of other high school comedies but director Wilde simply uses the of high school graduation party set-up as a backdrop for her hilarious study of female bonding. The premise may be familiar but the charm of the movie is all in execution and the connected chemistry between the leads.
In her feature debut Wilde is so self-assured, staging big party scenes, a dance number and even car chases but never allows the focus to drift from Molly and Amy. Even when the supporting cast—the cosmically free-spirited Gigi (Billie Lourd), rich kid Jared (Skyler Gisondo), the much-talked-about AAA (Molly Gordon) or the very theatrical drama club members Alan and George (Austin Crute and Noah Galvin)—gets showcased in increasingly outrageous ways Wilde never lets their humanity trump the humour. In other words, it’s funny because it’s based in truth; real human behavior.
Feldstein and Dever are the film’s beating heart. Both have crushes on other people—Molly likes party boy Nick (Mason Gooding), Amy has her eye on skater girl Ryan (Victoria Ruesga)—but deep down they are soul mates. They click, whether it is through their banter or the knowing looks they exchange, and by the time “Unchained Melody,” that ode to unconditional love, spills from the theatre’s speakers there’s no doubt that Molly and Amy are bound to be connected forever, or at least until adult life gets in the way.
Like its main characters “Booksmart” is true to its self, an overachiever that knows how to have a good time.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the all-singing, all-dancing, all-powerful Genie in the live action remake of “Aladdin,” the wild and wooly “Booksmart” and a doc about the life and times of a Canadian legend, “Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind.”
“Men, Women & Children” is a sprawling ensemble drama that I suppose is meant to shed some light on the widening gap between analogue parents and their iphone toting kids, but comes off more as a high tech “Reefer Madness.” Someone needs to jiggle director Jason Reitman’s cord and reboot.
The movie, based on the Chad Kultgen novel, suggests that social media, video games and texting are the root of all modern evil. Anorexia, the shameless pursuit of Kim Kardashian style fame, teen pregnancy and even adultery, it seems to say, can be traced back to a key stroke or two.
It’s a remarkably clumsy observation from a director who has treated us to a searing look at downsizing in “Up in the Air” and a satiric look at lobbyists on “Thank You For Smoking.” Leading the charge against internet interaction is Patricia (Jennifer Garner), a mom who monitors her daughter’s every text and post and hands out pamphlets on the dangers of the selfie. She’s a hardcore crusader, the Mary Whitehouse of the anti-internet crowd. You expect her to yell, “Get off my URL,” at any moment. In any other Reitman movie she’d be played for laughs, the center for the satire, but here we’re supposed to take her seriously and that decision lies at the heart of what is very wrong with “Men, Women and Children.”
Instead of mining the rich vein of satire in the disconnect between kids and parents, Reitman pitches the tone in the area of an afterschool special. The listless direction and inability to answer any of the questions it raises, coupled with the tiresome cliché of texts and posts popping up all over the screen, overshadows some engaging work by the actors—particularly Judy Greer as a momanger to a teen wannabe, and Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Dever as a couple struggling to cope with their mothers.
Given the film’s attitude “Men, Women and Children” might have been better off with a title like “Old Folks Just Don’t Understand.”