Insincerely Me

Fascinating and flummoxing, 'Dear Evan Hansen' still strikes a chord | The  Spokesman-Review

Probably weird that I’m coming back after almost 2 years of not posting to talk about a controversal adaption of the polarizing musical starring Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen. I’m gonna get real specific with this post though. I’m not going to talk about how Ben Platt looks too much like the Cryptkeeper to play a highschooler, I’m not going to talk about how weirdly bleak and sterile the whole vibe of the movie is, I’m not going to talk about how weirdly bad Amy Adam’s performance in this is, and I’m definitely not going to say a word about how goddamn creepy it is that Evan actually dates the sister of the suicide victim he’s basing his long term deception on. No, I’m going to talk about one song, and how everything wrong with the movie (and the broadway musical to a lesser extent) can be traced back to it.

“Sincerely Me” is an outlier in the movie’s list of tracks in that it’s the only upbeat, choreograph heavy number, and also by being the only song that I really like. In fact, it’s the first song I heard from the soundtrack years ago, which led to me listening to the rest of the album only to be shocked and disappointed in how goddamn maudlin and self-serious the musical turned out to be. What I thought was one brilliant song among many in a satirical musical about how social media has incentivized today’s adolsence to be less connected to each other emotionally and far more willing to do sociopathic things to advance their own social capital, was actually an outlier song in a musical that seems to hate and resent the very concept of fun.

To understand what’s wrong here exactly requires an understanding of Evan Hansen’s crimes. Evan is a teenager that suffers from social anxiety, loneliness, and depression that lives with a single mother that’s too busy working to support the family to spend time with him. Some hijinks happen and a kid carrying a theraputic letter Evan wrote to himself (‘Dear Evan Hansen…’) is found in the posession of troubled teen that killed himself while the letter happened to be on his person. The deceased teen, Connor Murphy, had parents that barely knew him but become convinced that Evan did based on the letter they mistake for a suicide note. Heartbroken about their dead son, they beg Evan to fill the gaps about his life to them because they’re understandibly shattered and upset about his suicide. Evan takes this opportunity to spin a yarn about his ‘best buddy’ Connor Murphy and their misadventures to comfort his parents, but also to grow closer to Connor’s sister Zoe, who Evan is in love with. He uses his fake connection to Connor to insinuate himself into their lives, aggrandize himself in these false stories about how he was always trying and failing to get through to their troubled loved one, eventually seducing Connor’s sister and starting a massive social media campaign about honouring Connor’s memory and placing himself as the face of the movement for reaching out to kids suffering in their mental health. Viral youtube videos, a kickstarter campaign, commerative wristbands circulating the school, and much more is heaped on the corpse of a dead kid with no say by a guy with no compunctions about stealing the affections of a grieving family. Obviously what follows is Evan’s deception being exposed, his fall, then his returning to his own humanity and attempting to make ammends. Unlike a lot of critics, I’m not immediately put off by this deeply black hearted story on its own, but the presentation is where the film loses me.

Dear Evan Hansen' Movie Review: Ben Platt's High School Musical

Reading over Evan’s deception, this is clearly a cynical tale about a sad person that used a person’s death to ruthlessly take everything he didn’t have in his own life. He took the love of Connor’s parents, the romantic affection of his sister, and the love of a school that hated and feared him. In a lot of ways, Evan stepped over Connor’s corpse to live the life they both wished they had but didn’t. It’s no coincidence that it’s revealed in the third act that Evan also tried to take his own life, only he failed where Connor sadly succeeded. The issue with all this is, the rest of the film doesn’t get how deeply twisted and darkly comic this all is. It’s wall to wall ballads about how badly we should feel about Evan, how badly Evan feels, how we should all sincerely reach out to those who are in trouble, but this isn’t a sincere story at all! It’s about a cruel deception based on one of the darkest subjects in existence. “Sincerely Me” is the only song that seems to understand this, the only song that understands what the musical Dear Evan Hansen ultimately should have been. It’s no coincidence that it’s the most reminiscent of a song from a superior musical with a similar subject matter, Heathers.

Everything the 'Dear Evan Hansen' Movie Changed From the Broadway Show,  From Cut Songs to Character Changes

In “Sincerely Me”, Evan and his (family) friend Jared concoct a scheme to keep his ruse going. They write a series of letters in the voice of Connor supposedly addressed to Evan intended for Connor’s parents ostensibly so they could feel more connected to their dead son, but really to provide a reason for Evan to further entrench himself in their lives. In the song, a reanimated eerily chipper Connor Murphy is shown singing the words Evan and Jared have written for him, dancing his way through the halls of a school he hated, singing about how much of a dear friend Evan was to him. Critics have noted how grotesque it felt to them, seeing a dead child marionetted this way by our protagonist, but they miss what’s really wrong with the scene. It wasn’t a glaring point of insensitivity, it’s literally the only song in the film that understands the dark core of our protagonist Evan. It’s a deeply insincere, cynical riff on the life of a suicide victim to aggrandize another troubled individual. It’s funny, it’s creepy, it’s catchy, it’s the only song that ‘gets it’, and it’s genuinely infuriating how little the rest of the film seems to understand itself. With this song you see a glimpse of what this musical should have been, an anti-heroic tale about a troubled and selfish individual whose hubris and greed eventually leads to his downfall, but also the reemerging of his own humanity.

The film ends with Evan being exposed and then making an honest effort to get to know the real Connor Murphy, which is a much more thoughtful ending than the broadway show admittedly, but like everything else in the musical, it doesn’t work as well as it should due to the saccharine, naively sentimental tone that encompasses the whole movie. What should have been a counterweight to all the cynicism, thoughtlessness, and cruelty Evan engaged in, was another mawkish set piece in a film full of them. It’s so tremendously dissapointing. How do you treat a protagonist willing to prop up the corpse of a dead sibling to seduce his sister as anything other than a scoundrel? You could have built a fun, but ultimately trenchant film about the social media age and mental health around such a character, but instead we got this weepy confused mess. Dear Evan Hansen, why did you make the choices that you did?

Pic of the Day:

Tonys 2017: Kevin Spacey opening lampoons Dear Evan Hansen, Sunset  Boulevard, Groundhog Day | EW.com

The Ten Worst Game Of Thrones Characters

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With a show with as many characters as Game of Thrones, it’s inevitable that a herd of stinkers would work their way into the fold. Although, it’s a bit misleading to outright say the show has a lot of outright bad characters, and that’s not exactly what this list is about. There are some interesting, well-acted characters on this list, but my criteria for what makes them the worst is how much they actively hurt the watching experience. It’s not just about sucking, it’s a combination of how much damage they do to the show, how much wasted potential they represent, and how outright annoying they are. It’ll make more sense as you read through, so here are Game of Thrones’ 10 worst characters.

*SPOILERS AHOY!

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Undead – Laptopstein: The Machine That Refused To Die – The Untold Story – A Canadian Horror Story

Phoenix Person

Note: “Laptopstein” is the name of the engineer that created my laptop, my laptop should be referred to as Dr. Laptopstein’s Laptop.

The last update on my laptop was a joyous post of celebration. The one before, was a tragedy on the levels of King Lear and Oedipus Rex. Today, I give you an update that brings the status of my laptop in flux, that places its well being between my previous two updates. Between life and death, in the twilight of my triumph and ultimate despair. My laptop has died, but it continues to live. It is currently being torn apart at the seams, but I have found a way to suspend it in something of a stasis. By not closing it anymore, my laptop is no longer in a state of constant structural deterioration. But new problems arose before and after I finally made that decision.

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My Pathetic Reason for Not Loving The Lego Movie

lego-movie

I recently got a chance to see The Lego Batman Movie, and it was amazing. Funny, heartfelt, and the perfect treat for a fan of Batman like myself. It functioned as both the ultimate fan film, and also the best cinematic Batman story since The Dark Knight. I also happened to enjoy it more than the original Lego Movie, which I thought was terrific, but was something I only liked rather than loved. What happened here? How could I prefer a spin-off that was admittedly less ambitious than the film that precipitated it? Well, the answer to that question lies in that ambition itself, and to explore it, I’m going to have to get into some spoilers.

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SING has Turned Me Into an Angry Cynic

pure-evil

Damn this film. I hate everything about it. The marketing, the plot, and yeah, the fact that it’s so damn manipulative. OK, I’m the first person to call out people for constantly whining about how everything is “fake” these days, and how consumerist society has become since those tend to be trite criticisms about things people don’t really examine, but boy does this movie make a damn good case for those people. It’s so god damned calculated and clearly designed to make money that it managed to anger me, and again, I’m not usually the kind of person who’d whine about that kind of thing. Almost every creative achievement ever was partly motivated by the thought of making some cash, but this movie is so freaking transparent about it. Maybe that’s what bothers me about it so much, that it’s so utterly graceless in what it’s trying to do.

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Moana and the Future of Disney Villains

tamatoa

I recently saw Moana, and surprise-surprise, it was great. I’m still torn on whether or not it was better than Frozen, but it was definitely a solid film with very little flaws. The thing is though, I’m not here to write a review on this film, I’m more here to discuss its villains. It had two, and only one of them was really a character in the sense that it had a personality and motivations. Right now I wanna talk Tamatoa, who was wonderfully voiced by Jemaine Clements, and what his role in the film was.

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The Best and Worst Case Scenario of a Trump Presidency

baby-trump

The Boy King. The image that comes to mind when I think of a Trump presidency isn’t that of a ruthless tyrant, or a xenophobic dictator. Trump is many things, but he’s never exactly what you describe him as. No one who has analyzed what he has said and done for a number of years can accurately assess what he’s going to do on a policy level, because Trump has no coherent policy. Actually, that may be an understatement, as a more accurate assessment of Trump is that he has no ideology. He doesn’t really believe in anything, and has been on every side of virtually every issue, even things he’s known for having a strong stance on like immigration. The only consistent thing about Trump is the level of character he brings to the office, and that character is that of an unpredictable petulant child.

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