The recently released Netflix bio-musical “Tick, Tick… BOOM!” tells the heart-wrenching story of famous composer Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), creator of the hit Broadway musical “Rent,” as he tries to make it big with his rock-musical Suburbia. After eight years of devising the futuristic storyline inspired by George Orwell’s “1984,” he’s ready to share it with the world.
It’s 1990, Jonathan lives in a small apartment in New York City— the best place for an aspiring playwright… and one of the worst for someone with a measly paycheck. Working as a waiter at the Moondance Diner, he struggles to keep afloat. With his workshop, a showcase of his musical, coming on at full speed, he must work harder than ever to make sure everything is perfect. If the workshop goes well, he’ll achieve his dream of getting his production on Broadway. If his goal isn’t met by the time he turns 30 (his birthday shortly after the workshop), he’ll have surpassed the age group of everyone he’s looked up to when they had their first success.
As the workshop grows nearer, stress builds and Larson finds himself stuck on writing one final thing—the most important song in the show. If he can’t find the words and notes to create the piece, there’s no chance he’ll get his work picked up by a producer. Through the grueling process of trying to find inspiration to complete his work, Jonathan has pushed away not only his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp), but also his long-time best friend Micheal (Robin de Jesús). He doesn’t realize he’s done this until he finds out his musical was rejected by everyone. He turns to Michael, explaining that he’s running out of time. In response, Micheal retorts that he has been diagnosed with HIV and he’s the one who should be worrying about the ticking clock. This exclamation changes Jonathan’s point of view on life, and he begins to realize how selfish he’s truly been.
Regardless of whether or not the story itself interests you, “Tick, Tick… BOOM!” is worth the watch for the life lessons that you can pick up along the way. A few prevalent morals in this movie cover topics relating to selfishness—though he doesn’t set out to be—and stress. This is most obvious when Jonathan begins to push people away due to the amount of pressure that’s put on him. I feel that what most people can take from this is that when we feel in over our head, the best thing to do is let loved ones help you, not suffer on your own.
On top of this, what I believe to be the most important theme in this movie, is that you should live your life to the fullest. A quote from Jonathan’s “Rent” states, “There is no future, there is no past. I live this moment as my last. There’s only us, there’s only this. Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way, no day but today.” As this theme is illustrated in not only “Rent” but also in “Tick, Tick… BOOM!” it’s clear that it’s also something Larson feels strongly about himself.
So what should you take away from this? Well for starters, I believe this bio-musical is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet. However, more importantly, take Jonathan’s words (or lyrics) of wisdom to heart. Surround yourself with people who care about you, and don’t be afraid of failure.
This article originally appeared in The Surveyor.