From the moment its trailer debuted, “Dear Evan Hansen” has been vilified and ridiculed in equal measure. If it’s not cruel jokes about how the film’s lead Ben Platt, 27 years of age, is playing someone ten years his junior while looking 30 years his senior, then it’s broad asides about the inherent comedy of a film with such serious undertones being a twee-sounding musical. But why is the reception so harsh?
Throughout any given year, certain movies come along that feel predestined to be memetic punching bags for critics’ personal frustrations. Professional film critics watch significantly more movies annually than the average person, and as such, are subjected to a wider array of product. So after repeat weeks of having to watch and unpack middling, forgettable affairs, when something truly special comes along, it becomes easy to get swept up in the effusive praise heaped by critical consensus, a collective sigh of relief. But when something is so obviously going to fall short in quality, then the knives come out, because there’s nothing more freeing than to pile on a movie most people agree is garbage.