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Everyone Is Trolling “Dear Evan Hansen” For Ben Platt's Age And Nepotism...And They're Not Wrong

“Really part of what bums me out about ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is that I'm actually a Ben Platt fan.”

On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed Dear Evan Hansen. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

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So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to The AV Club's Caroline Siede about Dear Evan Hansen and the not-so-kind reactions to it. Here's some of what we learned:

BuzzFeed Daily: Without spoiling anything, can you give us a quick plot summary of the movie? What's the elevator pitch for Dear Evan Hansen?

@dearevanhansenmovie / GIPHY / Via giphy.com

Caroline Siede: So Dear Evan Hansen centers on sort of a lonely, very socially anxious high school senior named Evan Hansen. And through this series of misunderstandings involving a letter that he writes to himself as part of a therapy assignment, Evan gets mistaken as the best friend of this outcast classmate named Connor Murphy, who dies by suicide near the start of the movie. And so Evan, at first, sort of only passively goes along with this lie to sort of bring comfort to Connor's parents, but he winds up sort of spinning more and more elaborate lies about this fake friendship as it starts to bring him popularity at school and a chance to get closer to his crush and sort of these stable parental figures who are there for him in a way that his hardworking single mom isn't always able to be.

BuzzFeed Daily: Sadly, there has not been as much love for the movie version. In fact, a lot of people are straight-up hating on it. You wrote a great review for the AV Club, in which you pointed out a lot of the problems. What were some of the biggest issues for you with the film?

Ben Platt looking sad in the Dear Evan Hansen movie
Universal Pictures

CS: I do think that this was unfortunately sort of a case where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I think that almost every sort of big-adaptation-choice this movie makes is sort of fundamentally flawed. But if I had to point to some of the biggest ones — onstage, one of the coolest premises of Dear Evan Hansen is that you're seeing these sort of everyday suburban teenage problems, really heightened to big musical theater, abstract operatic proportions. 

But the movie, the way they choose to film it, it's much more in the tone of like a grounded indie character drama. So it's a lot of people just sort of like standing and sitting in living rooms. And I sort of think without that visceral live quality, the messiness of the plot and the story just become way more apparent. Like it's harder to sort of just get swept up in the emotion of it all. And sort of adding to that, I think, is the way the movie, I think, over-thought how to present Ben Platt as a teenager. He was about 27 when they filmed and he lost a bunch of weight for the role. He grew out his hair. He sort of has all these anxious mannerisms, and this hunched posture. And I think he seems to be wearing quite a lot of makeup to sort of make his skin look younger. All of these choices that I think only make him, in fact, look far older than he looks in real life. And sort of, you know, this is a show or a movie that really hinges on its leading man just being so young and immature and anxious that you just really feel for him even when he's in the wrong. But you have Ben Platt giving kind of an off-putting performance. It's just hard to connect to, even in the way that I think so many people did when Platt played the role onstage. 

BuzzFeed Daily: Another big issue people are having with this movie is something that's very common in Hollywood: nepotism. Now, one of the movie's producers is Mark Platt, who happens to be the father of Ben Platt. The defenders say it's okay because Ben originated the role on Broadway, but the detractors say he's way too old to play this part. So where do you come down on this?

Ben Platt in a stage performance of Dear Evan Hansen
The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

CS: I will say personally, I sort of take a realist view towards Hollywood nepotism. Like I wouldn't say this is the system I would choose to build if I were building the entertainment industry from the ground up. But I'm also not sure that personally, I would point to Ben Platt as the most egregious example of somebody who's sort of coasting along solely, at least on their parent's influence. 

What Dear Evan Hansen kind of reminded me of actually is the Rent movie that they did in2005, which also cast the original Broadway performers, sort of trying to recapture the magic of the stage show. And I think similarly they just all wound up looking way too old onscreen and it felt very off-putting as well. 

But really part of what bums me out about Dear Evan Hansen is that I'm actually a Ben Platt fan. I feel like I've really been rooting for him since his days in Pitch Perfect. I saw him in the Chicago production of Book of Mormon where he put this really compelling original comedic spin on a character that had been played differently originally, and I was really impressed with that. Well, before I knew who he was or who his dad was or anything like that. And I'm still committed to watching The Politician is as messy a show is just because I think he's so good on it. So I think it's kind of a bummer that Dear Evan Hansen ended up being so much of a misfire, because I do find myself sort of rooting for Platt a bit.

BuzzFeed Daily: The film also features Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, and Amandla Stenberg. Were there any standout performances, or did that thing happen when a really good actor gets cast a movie musical, but they can't really sing like Russell Crowe in Les Mis?

Julianne Moore hugging Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen
Universal Pictures

CS: Thankfully, there was no Russell Crowe in Les Mis situation, no Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia! situation here. I actually thought the cast, again, wasn't really the problem here. I thought that Amy Adams and Julianne Moore in particular had some really moving moments, as sort of the mother figures in the story. I think the one moment that I did genuinely get choked up in Dear Evan Hansen is in Julianne Moore's big sort of number where she's reaching out to her son and saying, you know, even though you consider yourself to be so broken, here are all the reasons I still love you. 

So I think when the movie works, it's mostly thanks to its sort of female ensemble. So, yeah, I guess if there is something to recommend about it. The music is catchy and there are some nice supporting performances in there.

To kick things off, during a performance at Central Park in NYC this past weekend, Lizzo took a moment to educate fans about the park’s racist origins.

AS WE TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, SOLVING HOMELESSNESS, AND MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.. WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM THAT HAPPENS IN THIS COUNTRY ALL THE TIME. Have you been to a Lizzo show? #Liztalk

Twitter: @lizzo

Moving on, Katherine Heigl recently looked back at remarks she made to David Letterman 12 years ago about the quote “cruel” working conditions the cast and crew of Grey’s Anatomy faced — specifically the nearly 20-hour work days.

As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.

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