Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Chbosky’


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.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

DEAR EVAN HANSEN: 3 STARS. “an embodiment of teenage angst.”

“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 sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” the drug addled “T2 Trainspotting” and the no-holds-barred “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard and BNN anchor Jon Erlichman of “Business Day AM” chat about the possibility of “Beauty and the Beast” becoming the highest grossing film so far this year.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: The real beauty of Beauty and the Beast is found in its humanity

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Poet Paul Éluard said that to understand Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of La Belle et la Bête — Beauty and the Beast — you must love your dog more than your car. His comment is baffling only if you haven’t seen the movie.

Once Cocteau’s film is seen, it’s apparent that what makes his version rewarding is that it values the organic over the mechanical — even the special effects are handmade. It refuses to allow the technical aspects of the film to interfere with the humanity of the story.

This weekend Disney will have their collective fingers crossed that audiences will favour their poodles over their RVs as they release the big-budget, live-action version of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson.

Director Bill Condon says the animated 1991 Disney classic was an inspiration for the new film, but adds he also drew from everything from Twilight and Frankenstein to a 1932 musical comedy called Love Me Tonight when creating the look for the new movie.

He also mentions La Belle et la Bête. “A film I really love.” His take on the Beast looked back to the movie, cribbing the character’s combination of ferocity and romance from Cocteau.

Before taking in the new version this weekend, let’s have a look back at the little-seen 70-year old Cocteau classic.

Loosely based on the timeless Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont fairy tale, the action in La Belle et la Bête begins when a poverty-stricken merchant pilfers a rose from a grand estate owned by a strange creature. The Beast strikes a deal with the man.

He’ll spare the life of the merchant in return for the hand of one of the man’s daughters. Reluctantly the merchant offers Belle, a beautiful girl who had been courted by the oafish Avenant.

At first she is repulsed by the Beast, who looks like the love child of the Wolf Man and Mrs. Chewbacca, but over time his tender ways and nightly offers of marriage warm her heart and she learns to love him for his inner beauty.

Cocteau’s version strays from the original story and Condon’s adaptation with the addition of a subplot involving Avenant’s scheme to kill the Beast and make off with his treasures and an unexpected magical personality switcheroo.

It’s meant to be a happy ending, but not everyone loved the new coda. When Marlene Dietrich saw an early cut of the film at a private screening, she squeezed Cocteau’s hand and said, “Where is my beautiful Beast?”

Other audiences embraced Cocteau’s vision. In his diary the poet wrote of a test screening held for the technicians in the Joinville Studio were the film had been made. “The welcome the picture received from that audience of workers was unforgettable,” he wrote.

Others criticized La Belle et la Bête for its straightforwardness, complaining that the characters are simply drawn, the story one dimensional. Taking that view, however, misses Cocteau’s point.

At the beginning of the film he asks for “childlike simplicity,” inviting the viewer to connect with their inner child, eschew cynicism and embrace naiveté for the film’s 96-minute running time.

In 1946 the request was meant as a salve for a post-occupation France that was still dealing with the aftermath of a terrible war.

Today, in an increasingly contemptuous world, the message still seems timely and welcome.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: 3 STARS. “loves its car more than its dog.”

Poet Paul Éluard said that to understand Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of “La Belle et la Bête”—“Beauty and the Beast”—you must love your dog more than your car. It’s a good line that suggests Cocteau’s adaptation values the organic elements of the film — even the special effects are handmade—while refusing to allow the technical aspects of the film to interfere with the humanity of the story.

The same can’t be said of the new, big budget live action Disney version of the story. Inspired by their classic 1991 animated story of belle and beast, the remake relies too heavily on computer generated splendour and too little on the innate charms of the story.

Emma Watson plays the bright and beautiful Belle, the independent-minded daughter of eccentric inventor Maurice (Kevin Kline). She is, as the townsfolk warble, “strange but special, A most peculiar mad’moiselle!” She has caught the eye of dimwitted war hero Gaston (Luke Evans) who unsuccessfully tries to win her hand.

Taking one of his new gizmos to market Maurice picks a rose as a present for Belle but runs afoul of the Beast (Dan Stevens). Once a self-centered prince, he was changed into a part-man, part-wolf, part Chewbacca creature by a witch as punishment for his hedonistic life. The only way to beak the spell, she cackles, is to find someone to love him before the last petal falls off an enchanted rose. “Who could love a beast?” he asks.

Enter Belle.

On the hunt for her father, she makes her way to the Beast’s remote castle only to find Maurice locked up for rose theft. She pleads with her hairy host for a moment with her father, and while giving him a hug pushes him out of the cell, slamming the door behind her. Trading her freedom for his, she is now the Beast’s prisoner. The staff—once human, now transformed into the enchanted candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth the clock (Ian McKellen), a teapot Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and wardrobe (Audra McDonald) although it feels like a missed opportunity to not have Daniel Craig play a eavesdropping microwave—see Belle as just the person to look past his ghastly appearance and see the true princely beauty within and lift his curse and theirs.

Director Bill Condon has made a classic big screen musical with state of the art special effects. Up front is a perfectly cast Emma Watson, who brings more tenacity to the character than we’ve seen in past versions as well as a considerable amount of charm. She is the movie’s beating heart, the human presence in the midst of a considerable amount of pomp and circumstance.

Condon decorates the screen, over-dressing almost every scene with layers of pageantry and CGI. It entertains the eye, particularly in the Busby Berkeley style “Be Our Guest” sequence but overwhelms the film’s humanity. This is a movie that loves its car more than its dog.

“Beauty and the Beast” is a handsome, straightforward movie that adds little to the animated classic. Some of the details have changed. Belle and Beast mourn their deceased mothers and Gaston’s minion Le Fou (Josh Gad) is now gay but the dreamlike of the 1991 version is lacking. The story just seems less magical when built from a collection of pixels.