“Tick, Tick… Boom!” covers life of late Jonathan Larson in musical biography


Courtesy of Macall Polay and NETFLIX

Tick Tick… Boom! covers the life of late artist Johnatan Larson in a throughoughly entertaining musical.

Katherine Daly, Staff Writer

Netflix’s “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a cause for celebration that has attracted none other than the likes of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s directing talent. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biographical musical brings to life the late Jonathan Larson’s work and theater career. Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) struggles to have his name recognized on Broadway before his 30th birthday. He’s been toiling with a satirical sci-fi musical opus for years and is close to finishing it for a make-or-break presentation.  The film is based on Larson’s one-man show, detailing his creative process and his determination to make his dreams come true.  


Throughout the film, great actors bring to life the other shows from Jonathan Larson’s tragically short career. Larson would go on to create the hit musical “Rent” but passed away before it opened to the public, succumbing to a sudden aortic aneurysm at the age of 35. He never lived to see the tremendous success of “Rent” and that legacy is the emotional substance of “Tick, Tick… Boom!” With a fine musical score, Miranda does well with the direction of the film mixing in both fantasy and realism. The film focuses on the songs that were written and composed by Larson himself and through them, the film reflects on the various stages of his life. One song that especially sticks out is a parody of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sundays in the Park with George”  

where Larson sings about his distaste at serving brunch patrons in a diner. 


The film uses its 1990s setting to address real-world issues that were abundantly prevalent during the time period such as HIV, as well as the capitalist ideology of working white-collar jobs as opposed to following one’s dreams, which heavily affected Larson’s life. Not only are these themes touched upon in the film but they are also evidently present in Larson’s work such as with “Rent,” which leads the audience into sitting back and thinking about what Larson was communicating through his work. Andrew Garfield’s performance works to perfection as he challenges the concrete jungle and the unforgiving road to stardom. Garfield is able to emulate the late Larson’s quirky personality, and he sings well while being perfectly charming. Miranda proves himself with the language of film which translates from the confines of the stage. 


The story hangs with the looming tragedy of Larson’s surprise death, with it being only five years away as he tries to do something great with his life and make artistic waves. The impending end of Larson’s life is one of the key elements that makes the story so compelling. The film adds the dramatic irony of tragedy, as we watch a young artist struggle in the theater and hold onto his vision. The entire project feels suffused with admiration and good intentions. It’s obvious that this film was a labor of love from many; “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is an emotional roller coaster with talent, heart and goodwill. The film is worth watching to see what Miranda and his theater brethren can do when celebrating a true artist.