'Dear Evan Hansen' Movie Premieres to Mixed Reviews: Called 'Enjoyable' and 'Overlong'

Dear Evan Hansen stars Ben Platt reprising the role he originated on Broadway in a movie musical adaptation that includes Amy Adams and Julianne Moore

The movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen has debuted at the Toronto Film Festival to mixed reviews by critics.

The musical stars Ben Platt, who originated the role on Broadway, as Evan Hansen, a socially anxious high school student who feels like an outsider at his high school. Trying to improve his self-image, he writes himself a letter that is mistaken for a classmate's suicide note—and rides that error to popularity.

While the Broadway show won six Tony Awards, including a Tony for best actor for Platt, critics who viewed the film for the first time at TIFF on Thursday gave the movie a mixed reception.

Critic Robert Daniels from RogerEbert.com wrote the movie was "an emotionally manipulative, overlong dirge composed of cloying songs, lackluster vocal performances, and even worse writing."

Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post had a different opinion, writing in his review, "[Platt] tones down his stage performance just enough for the big screen, but retains Evan's quick sense of humor and lovable nature, despite his misdeeds. He pummels you in the end."

Ben Platt as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky.
Universal Studios

Ian Freer of Empire Magazine wrote, "Dear Evan Hansen gives enjoyable, tuneful voice to important modern-day concerns but lacks the dramatic and cinematic chops to really take flight."

Meanwhile, Deadline's Valerie Complex opined, "Dear Evan Hansen could have been made enjoyable, but there are too many glaring problems that can't be ignored for the sake of entertainment."

Variety's Peter Debruge wrote in his review, "Dear Evan Hansen rubbed me wrong onstage, and it doesn't sit well with me now, despite a few smart improvements to the material."

The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Rechtshaffen wrote, "Despite the pesky distractions, Platt and company still manage to deliver a right message at precisely the right time."

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The movie also stars Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Amy Adams and Julianne Moore.

Earlier this week, Platt told PEOPLE (The TV Show!) he hoped the story resonated even more for young kids now, who had trouble during the isolation brought on from the pandemic.

"This story, I think, especially right now, unfortunately, has such a unique opportunity to make people feel seen and feel part of something larger than themselves and feel so not unique in their loneliness and their isolation," he said. "If it wasn't already a universal experience, it certainly is now."

Dear Evan Hansen opens in theaters on Sept. 24.

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