Is the new Ben Platt live action musical adaptation film ok for children? Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, an honest parent guide to the new Universal movie. #DearEvanHansenMovie
Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review | Safe for Kids?
La La Land and The Greatest Showman level or 2019 Cats?
With 6 Tony Awards, 1 Grammy and a best-selling book, it’s no surprise to see the wildly popular Dear Evan Hansen musical become a film adaptation. With big names and even bigger resumes, there’s high hopes that the beloved Broadway show and YA novel would add a well-loved movie to the bundle. But as we all know, not all Broadway numbers can translate to the big screen.
Is Dear Evan Hansen a movie success or a Cats, round 2? In this Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review | Safe for Kids? we deep dive into the visuals, the story, a full PG-13 age rating explanation and breakdown, and my parent age rating recommendation for children (including if I would take my own kids to see this film). “You Will Be Found” or “Words Fail?” Only this non-spoiler parent review can tell if this movie is Academy Award worthy too.
In a word, unimpressive. If you were expecting The Greatest Showman or La La Land visuals, I’m sorry to disappoint. Unlike other musical movie adaptations, Dear Evan Hansen plays more like a regular film with some singing sprinkled in. No fancy camera tricks or intense CGI enhancements, this live action movie relies heavily on Ben Platt front and center. That’s it.
Based on the best-selling book by Val Emmich, Dear Evan Hansen is a dark YA novel plot following a high school teen struggling with his own mental health issues. Take everything bad about the high school years and multiply it exponentially into a 13 Reasons Why film with more crippling anxiety/depression/sociopathy than even my brain can fathom. Yes, it’s that dark.
But if you have read the teen novel or watched the live production, you know that Dear Evan Hansen’s seamlessly emotional, controversial and intense story is what draws the audience in. To wrap ourselves around the concept of suicide as an OVERT theme of this movie, it’s beyond heavy. Deep and emotionally taxing at times, the story overall hits the soul through a punch to the gut from beginning to end – friendship, love, lies, mental health, family – so many deep themes touched on!
But if you peer through the story, the setting seems off. Even with a film adaptation that can truly elaborate and bring the stage scene to life – I was underwhelmed with Evan’s house, his school, even the costumes. Without the fantasy of La La Land, the impressive CGI of The Greatest Showman or show stopping dance numbers, you really focus in on the little things to make the story more believable. And I wasn’t impressed.
Ben Platt reprises his role as Evan Hansen, though his airy voice doesn’t hide his non-high school looking age. Along with musical pro Amy Adams (“Enchanted“) and Julianne Moore (“Hunger Games“), these ladies truly take their roles to another emotional level. I won’t spoil the book or the Broadway production, but there are changes to the songs and a story ending twist that will have Dear Evan Hansen fans in a possible uproar. Yikes.
That PG-13 Rating
Is Dear Evan Hansen movie safe for kids? It’s no secret that I am highly skeptical of all MPAA ratings (um hello, PG-13 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker not disclosing any language??). With film ratings unpredictable these days, even PG ratings oscillating between Incredibles 2 intense to Christopher Robin calm, having fully disclosed parent guidelines can help determine if a movie is family friendly – and worth paying those movie theater ticket prices.
Why is Dear Evan Hansen rated PG-13? The Dear Evan Hansen movie is rated PG-13 for “some suggestive references, brief strong language, suicide, thematic material.” Big red flags going up yet? Yeah, me too. Is Dear Evan Hansen safe for kids to see? Or is Dear Evan Hansen too scary for kids? Let’s talk about it. Here’s what parents need to know before letting their kids watch the new Dear Evan Hansen movie.
Violence/Suspense. Pretty minimal. Bullying, including being pushed to the floor. Anger and yelling and threat of “killing for no reason.” No blood or gore is seen, however there is a puking scene (with no contents seen). You also see a person falling to the ground hard and a mildly suspenseful car scene. No weapons present. However, the phrase “school shooter” is spoken, which could be very triggering.
Language. Holy strong language, Batman. If you’re worried about your child being exposed to bad swear words, this movie is teetering on R-rating territory. 2 F-bombs, multiple sh*t references, multiple H-E-double-hockey-sticks, and 1 d@mn. There’s also more mild instances of the words “sucks” and “freak.”
Adult Themes. Deep breath, here. This is going to get lengthy and possibly triggering. When I say that suicide is an OVERT theme of the movie, I’m including saying the word, discussion of acts, and attempts. While the audience does not visually see the act/attempt – it is constantly brought up in conversation.
Mental health is also discussed A LOT. Not only seeing prescription bottles and multiple pills, but seeing actors consuming and feeling the effects of mood stabilizers, discussion of taking drugs, names and doses of anxiety and depression medications said aloud, and singing of smoking drugs, crack and pot.
As far as sexual innuendo, more mild than what is discussed in the book. The phrase “rub my nipples” with visual is seen, also use of the words “kinky” and “erotic.” Gay references and male to male interactions (“hooked up with…”) is also discussed by the teens. There’s hand holding and mild kissing as well.
What Dear Evan Hansen Age Rating Is Recommended for Kids?
Is Dear Evan Hansen movie kid friendly? A musical film with a runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes will have younger kids running for the hills alone. However, catchy tunes and kids drawn to teen drama may be begging to see this film too. While more toned down when it comes to sexual innuendo, the intense adult themes (hello, suicide?) and strong language pairing is a combo that spells disaster for children. Oh, and did we mention mental health issues? As if dealing with teen years wasn’t hard enough, now center it all with depression, anxiety, paranoia, sociopathy, drugs and other crippling mental health illnesses.
So what age rating is recommended for kids to see the Dear Evan Hansen movie? While this film can open up a world of good conversations with your older, more mature teens, I would caution all parents to gauge their kids on their temperaments to handle intense issues for a prolonged amount of time. I would not recommend Dear Evan Hansen for kids younger than 12-years old. Though I would honestly recommend at least high school age for my more sensitive kids. My 12-year old son and 8-year old daughter will NOT be seeing this movie anytime soon.
For this movie, everything comes down to adaptation of the original Broadway show and believability. While Ben Platt’s voice lends to the familiarity, there’s an awkwardness that cannot be ignored. The believability that a 27-year old man can play a struggling high school teenager as much as I wanted to believe – wasn’t fully there. Pair this with stripped songs, lack of depth in characters, confusing sets, and a (ironically) sad attempt at an ending twist, the full gut wrenching, heartstring pulling, beautiful mess of a show is not fully realized.
For a person who has never read the book or seen the stage show, Dear Evan Hansen opens a door to a world of teenage struggle, heartache, and mental health – concepts very important for teens and parents to discuss. A condensed 13 Reasons Why with some teary songs, there’s impact there that will wow new audiences.
But for true fans of the Dear Evan Hansen movement – this movie comes up short. I wanted this movie to take me to the depths that the Broadway production could not – into the struggling depths of the mind and soul of Evan Hansen. Fancy camera tricks, artsy angles, deeper emotional connections – but everything outside of the songs felt like a mediocre musical movie effort. Something new, a brand new face, a rising star – a new interpretation, I wish this movie had given some other actor a chance to bring Evan Hansen to life. Except for the performances of Julianne Moore and Amy Adams, I was overall missing that Broadway wow.
Oh, Ben. I wanted to feel so much for Evan Hansen. But as a person struggling with mental health herself, I can see through the act – and I know when it’s too over the top, even for me.
Follow Dear Evan Hansen on social media:
- Website: https://www.universalpictures.com/movies/dear-evan-hansen
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dearevanhansenmovie
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/dehmovie
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dearevanhansenmovie/
Looking for more parent movie reviews like Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review | Safe for Kids? Check out these popular posts:
The Dear Evan Hansen movie is in theaters only starting Friday September 24, 2021. Will you be watching this musical on the big screen?
I was invited to screen this film in exchange for this Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review | Safe for Kids? All photos courtesy of Disney. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more movie updates, celebrity interviews, entertainment and behind-the-scenes info!