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7 Changes That Could Have Made Dear Evan Hansen Better

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The musical everyone was waiting for is finally in theatres! Was it worth the watch? Definitely! Was it worth 31% on Rotten Tomatoes? Probably… When musicals are adapted into movies, creators are given an opportunity to re-explore the story and add depth to the narrative. The movie attempted to do just that, but failed in some ways. This article will look into some rejected opportunities and provide seven ways the movie could have taken a deeper dive into each character’s emotions and motivations. SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go do that right now then come back and read this article. 

  1. No One Cares About Connor!

I wish I could say that I cared enough about Connor. He was a high school kid going through a hard time and decided to kill himself – but what do we even know about him? Some people didn’t feel enough of an attachment to the character, and the overall impact of his suicide was underwhelming. 

Before Connor’s death, the audience didn’t really get a chance to know him. Instead of focusing on Evan, the protagonist, for the first few minutes of the movie, more time should have been dedicated to introducing Connor’s struggles and mentality the day he decided to kill himself. Read number two to see how this could have been achieved. 

  1. The Beginning of the Movie Drags 

At the beginning of the movie, there was too much dialogue and time spent introducing Evan’s anxiety, depression and relationship with his mother – the closest person he had to a friend.

By including the original intro song of the musical, “Anybody Have A Map?”, the movie could have started at a faster, more engaging pace, introducing both Evan and Connor. Throughout the song, they could’ve jumped between both of their home lives, introducing their struggles and family dynamics. By following each of their mornings, thoughts and walks through the halls, the audience could’ve gotten more of a chance to know the characters.

  1. Evan and Alana Made More Sense Together

Evan and Alana were able to connect on a level that he and Zoe couldn’t. Evan was able to be himself; less anxious and more honest. Alana was able to see who he really was while Zoe couldn’t even tell that he was going through social anxiety and depression. Alana and Evan cultivated a sort of friendship by spending time with each other on The Connor Project. 

After Evan and Zoe broke up, imagine Evan and Alana returning to the swing set near the end of the movie where they first got to know each other. They could’ve shared another moment when Evan opens up and tells her about the web of lies he circulated. She would’ve been sad that he lied but grateful he opened up to her. She would’ve apologized for sharing Connor’s supposed suicide note even after Evan asked her not to. They could’ve shared a moment of silence and smiled at each other, hinting at the open-ended possibility of them one day being together; a vague ending of the short substory of two lost and alone souls finding somebody who can understand what they’re going through.

  1. Jared Was Useless

Jared was Evan’s confidant; the comedic relief that could have easily been taken out of the movie. He didn’t do much to push along the plot as he was given a lot of one-liners. There wasn’t much, if any, development in his character throughout the entire movie. 

There should’ve been more scenes when Evan confided in Jared, so much so, that when Evan finally had Zoe and spent more time with her and her family, Jared would’ve started to miss him. There was an insert shot where this could’ve been seen, but without build-up towards their growing friendship, Jared’s pain wouldn’t have made much sense. In the original musical, Jared was more involved in The Connor Project, but in the movie, he was more of an extra. 

  1. Connor Should Come Back

Evan finds a song sung by Connor, “A Little Closer” by FINNEAS, which he sends to his mourning family in hopes of redeeming their son/brother. Through this song, Connor is revived and is seen in their eyes as more than just a stubborn and troublesome kid his parents knew; more than just the monster Zoe knew. He was seen as somebody lost and unseen, hoping to be recognized as somebody in need of help. This attempt to show more depth to Connor’s character was a good step, however, there needed to be more than just this one instance. 

In Alana’s song “The Anonymous Ones”, the beginning of the movie is revisited through her perspective. Her character becomes more complex as she is revealed to also have depression, similar to both Evan and Connor. What could’ve been done to provoke a few more tears on Connor’s behalf (since that’s the whole point of the movie) was to mirror what they did for Alana’s character. Whether it was in a song or just any scene, his day could’ve been revisited and could have gone further by exploring the moments leading up his suicide. There could’ve been a scene near the end of the movie when we find out what the last straw that drove Connor to his breaking point was. See number six to see one way this could look. 

  1. Why did Connor Kill Himself?

We can understand from some of Connor’s scenes before he died that he had no friends and was being picked on at school, but we don’t get any real answers as to why Connor wanted to die. 

Perhaps it was because of his secret romance…? 

No…not with Evan, although I’m sure many Dear Evan Hansen fans would have hoped so. They do touch on some gay humour in the song “Sincerely, Me”, but in the novel of the same title, Connor was written to have a secret romance with a character named Miguel. In the movie adaptation, Connor might have been closeted, which could have later been revealed. His father was a stern alpha male who loved baseball and argued for a living; his mother was the rich trophy wife who was so bored with her life that she constantly needed something new to keep her occupied. Connor didn’t have any friends and couldn’t come out to his cookie-cutter parents so he took out his anger on his little sister, Zoe. He tries to be friends with Evan as a way to “get back out there” after being away from Miguel, but is triggered upon learning that Evan has a crush on his sister instead. Connor runs out of the school holding onto Evan’s letter and eventually forces a drug overdose, killing himself. 

  1. Evan Shouldn’t be the Protagonist

The movie was focused too much on Evan and his life, and while that was important, so was Connor’s life. He had only a small count of lines before his death, but through the song “Sincerely, Me”, the thought of him haunted the halls he once walked.

By adding back the song “Disappear” from the original musical where Connor’s spirit asks Evan to keep his memory alive, prompting Evan to start The Connor Project, Connor’s spirit could’ve come back to tell more of his story. Connor and Evan could have had another amazing duet, showing how similar they were. 

Musicals are always better than the movies, but that doesn’t mean the movie can’t be good too. As low as the movie was rated, I definitely suggest watching it, whether or not you saw the original musical. What do you think of my suggestions to make the movie adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen better? Let me know on any social media platform provided. I would love to hear your ideas on changes you would have made yourself! And if you ever have the chance, don’t pass up the opportunity to watch the live musical. I promise you won’t see anything like it; it was as if all the emotions were emanating from the stage and through your veins. The experience isn’t one to pass up.

Jessica is an English Major at Ryerson aspiring to become a teacher, who is passionate about her writing and thrives on creativity. She aspires to be a published author and hopes to see her name at the end credits of a show, may it be as the screenwriter, producer, or actress. Originally born in Canada, after having grown up for half her life in the Philippines, she is back home and can't wait to see and experience more of the world.
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