Dear Evan Hansen: What Fans Are Saying About The Broadway Adaptation

Amandla Stenberg and Ben Platt looking at computer in Dear Evan Hansen
(Image credit: Universal)

Dear Evan Hansen has been a huge hit musical on Broadway since it arrived to the New York stage in 2016 and went on to become a Tony-winning production, including receiving the Best Musical accolade. Last weekend, the coming-of-age story’s movie adaptation hit theaters, and fans of Dear Evan Hansen, along with movie fans who’d never watched it on stage, had the chance to see it on the big screen. So now we answer, how did the movie play with audiences? 

Dear Evan Hansen follows the eponymous socially anxious teenager (played by Ben Platt), who is asked to write letters to himself by his therapist. When one of his classmates, Connor, dies by suicide, Evan Hansen becomes unexpectedly connected to him when his parents come to believe that one of Evan’s letters was a suicide note by Connor. 

Critics did not connect with Dear Evan Hansen overall, with many reviewers pointing to “glaring problems” in Stephen Chobsky’s movie and the musical itself. CinemaBlend’s own Corey Chichizola gave the movie a positive review, saying that the movie actually “improves' on the original musical in his 3.5 out of 5 star review. Although Dear Evan Hansen seems to be a decisive movie among audiences, it did receive an impressive A- Cinemascore. So from a moviegoer’s perspective, it was well worth the watch in contrast. 

Let’s get into the big internet discussions among fans about Dear Evan Hansen. First off, many had a bone to pick about the Dear Evan Hansen movie adaptation. 

Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen

(Image credit: Universal)

A Lot Of People Had Problems With The Musical Adaptation 

Movie musicals are often subjected to more scrutiny than the usual adaptations because Broadway fans really know their stuff and truly love the productions they love. In terms of Dear Evan Hansen, a lot of fans are finding joy in making fun of the movie version, with tweets like this: 

Dear Evan Hansen is not your typical movie musical because it takes place in a very palpable place of the present day rather than being based in a fairytale or olden times. It stars Ben Platt, who made the role of Evan Hansen famous on stage, but is currently a decade older than a high school student (we’ll get to that later). It seems like the movie was not impressing even some musical fans: 

Not every musical is going to hit the same! One Broadway fan went as far as to call the movie worse than 2019’s Cats, which is an absolutely savage comment if you’ve read the peculiar buzz around that movie

There were plenty of well-reasoned negative reviews about Dear Evan Hansen to add to the conversation. The movie deals with the subject of teen suicide and mental health, and that makes it an especially complex subject to set to the screen. Many have characterized it as “flawed,” especially in terms of its lead character, Evan Hansen: 

Evan Hansen going along with a lie relating to someone’s suicide was not swallowed easily by a lot of audiences. Here’s another disappointed fan: 

Along with the story itself, Ben Platt as the lead also bothered some people. We’ll head to that conversation next. 

Ben Platt as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen movie

(Image credit: Universal)

The Reactions Were Harsh About Ben Platt's Age 

Ever since the Dear Evan Hansen movie was announced, and especially when the movie’s first trailer came out, a 28-year-old Ben Platt playing a high school student has become somewhat of a meme for the movie. Seriously, people on the internet can’t get enough of making fun of him: 

That one is a tad extreme, but a lot of it may have to do with some of the hairstyling and wardrobe decisions as well for Ben Platt. Additionally, Platt was paired with younger actors playing his classmates, in turn making him being older more obvious. Some of his co-stars, include 22-year-old Amandla Stenberg and 24-year-old Kaitlyn Dever, are honestly not that much younger, but Platt having played a college freshman in Pitch Perfect almost ten years ago doesn’t help. 

The Steve Buscemi “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme from 30 Rock has also been prevalent when people talk about Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen. Additionally, people are having fun making other comparisons at the expense of the Tony-winner. 

You could make the argument that no one knows the character quite like Ben Platt, considering at one point in time he played the character eight times a week. On the other hand, perhaps it was time for the role to be passed on to a younger actor. It’s a contentious topic, but not everyone was turned off by Platt in the role: 

It goes to show that between some heavily negative comments about Dear Evan Hansen, the movie also had plenty of fans too. Let’s close out with those. 

Ben Platt and Kaitlyn Dever laughing in Dear Evan Hansen

(Image credit: Universal)

Dear Evan Hansen Struck A Meaningful Chord With Many

Nitpicks aside, Dear Evan Hansen still pleased a lot of people and they took to social media to share their emotional reactions. One fan said it was “everything” he wanted, sharing that the entire theater he went to see it with were in tears thanks to the musical: 

Another fan wanted to particularly shout out to Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Connor’s sister Zoe in the film. She also really loved the new music that was added just for the movie. One of the new songs is called “The Anonymous Ones,” which was written and sung by Amandla Stenberg in the movie: 

Dear Evan Hansen definitely sounds like a tearjerker and it created a profound experience for many people who experienced the movie in its first week. As another fan added: 

There’s certainly a lot of opinions about Dear Evan Hansen and whether you like it or not will defer from person to person. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.