David Jurmann’s review published on Letterboxd:
I know this movie means well, but boy is it irresponsible.
Dear Evan Hansen starts off pretty nicely. It has a good opening song and establishes this world and characters efficiently. And sure, Ben Platt looks like he doesn't belong in high school -- maybe even college -- but his voice is really good.
And the first act in general, while nothing special, is serviceable enough. There are some good character moments, and it sets up the main conflict well enough to the point where it's completely reasonable to see why it goes the way it does (at first).
The problem, though, is that the plot starts to get so absurd and icky that Evan Hansen as a character starts to become one who is increasingly harder to sympathize with. He goes from someone who did something with innocent intentions, and turned it into something disgusting and cruel, even if it wasn't meant to be that way.
What's also frustrating is that the movie is so hellbent on having you feel bad for Evan's character. The movie is forcing this skewed view on you where Evan is supposed to be helping people, when in reality, he's flat out irresponsible. He's making the dumbest decisions possible, and it gets to the point where the idea of suspending disbelief is long gone.
The movie does pull itself together in the third act where there finally starts to show some real character growth, but it's too little, too late. And it doesn't take the time to let those moments play out. It rushes to the finish line.
The movie does have some good aspects worth mentioning. Again, the music is good and mostly catchy. The performances are good too, particularly Katilyn Denver, who also has the best character in the film.
I really wanted to like this film. I wanted to love it. I think writer-director Stephen Chbosky made one of the best coming of age films I've ever seen in Perks of Being a Wallflower. I don't know what happened here, but nearly all of the aspects that made that film so raw and relatable are nowhere to be found. The film is visually bland, the pacing is slow, and the characters aren't all that interesting.
Full disclosure, I've never seen the stage play before. Maybe I would've liked it more, maybe less, maybe the same. There are some good messages buried beneath the surface, and I think there's a much better story here somewhere. But, I'm sad to say that this isn't it.