Freeze Frame: “Dear Evan Hansen” (PG-13), “The Starling” (PG-13)

The acclaimed Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” makes a bumpy transition to the big screen. Ben Platt reprises his Tony Award-winning role as a trouble, outcast teen who tries to gain sympathy by pretending to be the friend of a kid who dies by suicide. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Social media, peer pressure and the generation gap are all subjects of derision. The popular score is intact, and the songs are well sung by a terrific cast that includes Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Kaitlyn Dever and Amandla Stenberg. But the inherent artificiality of the musical genre makes dealing with the subject of mental illness seem awkward on film. Some things just work better on the stage. While it doesn’t deserve the drubbing it’s getting from many critics, “Dear Evan Hansen” is, at best, a well-meaning curiosity. Fans of the show, however, will forgive its flaws. Bring tissues.

Melissa McCarthy gives it her all in the uneven and somewhat heavy-handed comic drama, “The Starling,” now streaming on Netflix. She plays a woman suffering from the loss of her child while also dealing with her husband’s mental illness. And furthermore, she’s enduring dive bomb attacks from the movie’s titular bird. Melissa seeks advice from a veterinarian/psychologist, played with low-key charm by Kevin Kline. While the metaphors and sentiment are all a bit too obvious, McCarthy utilizes both her considerable comic and dramatic chops to help keep “The Starling” grounded, even if it never quite takes flight.

Good news for movie buffs, the Glenwood Arts Theater is finally back in operation. More info is available at fineartsgroup.com.

All of your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, and fineartsgroup.com.


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