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Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review - Heartbreaking and Relatable

The power of social media can make or break us.

Reviewed by on Sep 23, 2021
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews Dear Evan Hansen, a musical starring Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt, that explores how a lie can spread via social media until it is out of hand. It’s both heartbreaking and celebratory.

In Dear Evan Hansen (Ben Platt), a nervous, socially outcast high schooler desperately wants to fit in. When a letter he wrote to himself as part of his therapy is found in the pocket of Connor (Colton Ryan), a suicide and Evan’s classmate, it is misunderstood as the boy’s suicide note launching the lie that he and Evan were best pals. Wanting so badly to be liked and get Connor’s sister Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) to be his girl, Evan lets the lie stand, expanding it until Connor’s whole family, his school and much of the teen social media world believes it. Can Evan possibly survive if everyone learns the truth?

Evan is isolated and lonely at schoolEvan is isolated and lonely at schoolCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Wanting to Fit In

Evan Hansen, arm in a cast, writes a letter to himself stressing what a great day it is going to be for him. He will be confident, not uptight, etc . His nurse mom Heidi (Julianne Moore) tries to encourage him, telling him to get the other kids to sign his cast. At school he has no friends and seems invisible. Only “family friend” Jared (Nik Dodani) tells him to talk to the girl he likes Zoe Murphy. He’s too shy. Even Jared won’t sign his cast. We learn he broke his arm falling out of a tree and nobody came to help. He has an unpleasant exchange with Connor, the school’s misfit, angry guy. Zoe apologizes for her brother. Evan is so freaked that she spoke to him that he runs away from her.

Connor signs Evan's castConnor signs Evan's castCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Dear Evan Hansen

Evan writes another letter to himself. This one is a downer, mentioning he wishes he could talk with Zoe but it’s hopeless, etc. He eats lunch alone wishing he could just disappear. Connor asks what happened to his arm, signs his cast in huge letters and says “Now we can pretend we are friends”. When Connor finds a print-out of Evan’s new letter that mentions his sister, he’s angry, pushes Evan down and takes it. Evan is sure it will appear online but it doesn’t. What will Connor do with it? Connor isn’t in school for a few days and his mom (Amy Adams) and stepdad (Danny Pino) come to school to talk to Evan. Connor killed himself. They found Evan’s letter in his pocket and assume it was written by Connor to Evan as a suicide note. The guys must be besties!

Connor's parents tell Evan that their son killed himselfConnor's parents tell Evan that their son killed himselfCourtesy of Universal Pictures

New Family

Wanting to get to know their dead son’s only friend, his parents invite Evan to dinner. It’s obvious Zoe didn’t like her angry brother. How can Evan tell Connor’s parents that he wrote the letter? They are so thrilled Connor had a friend. Evan makes up stories about the friendship to help the parents cope. He pretends Connor was with him goofing off in the woods when he broke his arm. His mom wants to see any emails or texts between them. Of course there are none.

Evan gets Jared to make up fake emailsEvan gets Jared to make up fake emailsCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Evan pays Jared twenty dollars to make up the emails and plant them in a “secret” account. The family reads the emails and sees that Evan always tried to help troubled Connor. Even Zoe comes around. Evan tells his own mom that he barely knew Connor.

Connor's family are reunited by Evan's lieConnor's family are reunited by Evan's lieCourtesy of Universal Pictures


Popular girl Alana (Amandla Stenberg) plans a memorial for Connor and asks Evan to speak at it. He declines. Zoe asks him over for pie. He tries to make her feel good about Connor and is secretly falling more for her. Alana creates The Connor Project, an outreach to troubled teens. She reveals to Evan that she too is on anxiety and anti-depression drugs. He’d be surprised how many kids are. With the encouragement of Connor’s parents, Evan agrees to speak at his memorial but really messes up his speech and knocks over the microphone. He recovers and speaks from his heart. Kids shoot video of it and it goes viral. Suddenly everyone at school loves him. Kids donate to The Connor Project. Evan becomes friends with Connor’s stepdad. His own dad left when he was seven.

On stage at the memorial, Evan faltersOn stage at the memorial, Evan faltersCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Closer to the Truth

When Evan’s mom is confused on seeing the video, he tells her he lied. He did know Connor who was his best friend. Zoe comes over and admits she likes him. Why does everything have to be about Connor? They start dating, go to prom, etc.

Evan's dreams come true as he dates ZoeEvan's dreams come true as he dates ZoeCourtesy of Universal Pictures

When Evan’s mom Heidi meets Connor’s parents they offer to put him through college with Connor’s college fund. Heidi is proud and refuses. They are acting like her son is their son! Alana says donations for The Connor Project are fading. Evan doesn’t come to the fund meetings anymore. Was Connor ever really his friend? He tells her of course. Connor wrote the letter to me. He shows it to her. She thinks it will help the fund so puts it online and it’s widely read. Now kids think Connor had horrible parents who drove him to kill himself. The parents are devastated. The effort backfired!

Evan learns that Alana has her own secretsEvan learns that Alana has her own secretsCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Evan Comes Clean

Finally, when Connor’s family start arguing about whose fault their son’s death was, Evan has to admit to them that he wrote the letter as part of his therapy. It’s not a suicide note and he and Connor were never friends. Will he lose their friendship and most of all, lose Zoe? Will Evan learn a hard lesson about lying? Does he have his own dark secret? Can he somehow manage to make up for the trouble and heartache his lies caused?

Evan makes friends with Connor's momEvan makes friends with Connor's momCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Notable Songs:   " Waving Through a Window" by Ben Platt, "The Anonymous Ones" by Amandla Stenberg, “You Will Be Found" by Ben Platt, “Only Us" by Kaitlyn Dever and Ben Platt, “For Forever” by Ben Platt, “Requiem” by Amy Adams, Danny Pino and Kaitlyn Dever, “A Little Closer” by Colton Ryan and more.

Evan's mom wants the best for himEvan's mom wants the best for himCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Wrapping Up

Based on an award-winning Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen launched the career of Ben Platt who was later a hit in the Pitch Perfect films.  The film is totally relatable to so many teens. If you aren’t socially anxious like Evan, you might be angry all the time like Connor or you know kids who are like them. Everybody can relate to feeling that they don’t fit in.

Can Evan speak at Connor's memorial?Can Evan speak at Connor's memorial?Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Evan has to learn the hard lesson and face the consequences of telling a lie or not correcting one that goes viral and gets totally out of hand. You would think that this serious story, set to music, would be kind of strange but the songs wonderfully express feelings throughout. I never saw the Broadway play so can’t make a comparison as some critics have. To me, although Ben does look a little old to be playing a teen, he sings like an angel and does a great job portraying the tortured Evan and Amy Adams and Julianne Moore especially stand out as troubled moms as does talented Amandla Stenberg as a popular girl hiding her own secrets.

Alana and Evan lead the Connor ProjectAlana and Evan lead the Connor ProjectCourtesy of Universal Pictures

At 2 hours 17 minutes, the movie is a bit long and the plot too overcomplicated. Overall, however, you will no doubt relate to the social media angst in the film, the problem with lies that go viral etc. We can award four stars.

Dear Evan Hansen Movie Rating: 4

Dear Evan Hansen Movie Review – Heartbreaking and Relatable | MusicalCourtesy of Universal Pictures

See Dear Evan Hansen in theaters September 24th