Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes On You

Movie review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes On You Movie Poster Image
Hamilton stars reunite, reflect in decent special.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 46 minutes

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Positive Messages

The musical can be used as a jumping off point to take a deep dive into the untold stories of our country's history. When the "room where it happens" reflects the diversity of our country, better things happen; open the doors to that room, invite everyone in. Representation matters -- seeing BIPOC actors filling up a Broadway stage has had a lasting impact on musical theater and fans.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Creator and cast members interviewed (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Phillipa Soo, etc.) and the director of Hamilton (Thomas Kail) are models of success and passion for their work. Among them, they are actors, directors, philanthropists, community organizers, and musicians. Thomas Kail is White; the rest are Black, Latino, and Asian. The host, Robin Roberts, and the guest professor, Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed, are also Black.

Violence

Racial protests are highlighted and tensions revealed. Hamilton has some violent moments, though they aren't showcased here. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism

The special was created as promotion for the release of the live recording of Hamilton on Disney+.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes on You is a special promoting the Hamilton live recording on Disney+. Done in Zoom-style video conferencing, Robin Roberts, of Good Morning America, talks with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, and members of the original Broadway cast (Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Phillipa Soo) about the legacy of the musical and its relevance to the racial justice protests of 2020. The discussion emphasizes the importance of history and representation of BIPOC in theater and beyond, and highlights the potential of our youth. The host and guests are role models of success and passion for their work. They are also Black, Latino, and Asian with the exception of director Thomas Kail, who is White. A solid pick for Hamilton fans to catch up with the original cast while also engaging with the musical's role in our world today.

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What's the story?

In HAMILTON: HISTORY HAS ITS EYES ON YOU, host Robin Givens introduces the smash-hit musical with clips from the live recording contrasted with footage of the racial justice protests of 2020 in order to "look at Hamilton the musical as America looks at itself." She discusses the origins of Hamilton with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and goes on to introduce director Thomas Kail and primary cast members of the original Broadway musical. They discuss personal anecdotes related to both the musical and racial justice, as well as answer questions from the host and pre-recorded questions from young Hamilton fans. The show ends with a montage of fans who video recorded themselves singing the first song of the musical, "Alexander Hamilton."

Is it any good?

This special, featuring stars from Hamilton the musical, offers some thought-provoking analysis, but it's entertainment at its core. Renée Elise Goldsberry, who played Angelica, reveals a heart-warming anecdote about the cast serving as aunties and uncles to her son, and how meaningful that was for him as a Black boy. Leslie Odom, Jr. (who played Aaron Burr) talks about being challenged by a young woman who said that Hamilton is just Black people telling White people's history. Though sometimes provocative, the commentary on how the musical speaks to the racial justice moment feels a bit shoe-horned in. Harvard law professor, Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed, is included as a critic, but, sadly, gets little airtime. Exemplary cultural analysis isn't really the point of any promotional special, though. After viewers get past the dreadful Zoom-like presentation of the guests in boxes surrounding host Robin Roberts, fans will ultimately enjoy seeing the cast reunited and interacting as friends and artists with great respect for one another. They'll also appreciate the history and themes they explored on stage, as well as the musical's inspiring legacy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issue of access that Lin Manuel Miranda and other guests discuss in Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes on You. Why do you think it was important to the creator, director, and cast members that students and people without financial resources for expensive tickets could see Hamilton and/or participate in related educational programs?

  • What is your perspective on the musical as it relates to what's happening in our world right now? What are some of the critiques or flaws that were discussed in the special? Do you agree with them? Why or why not?

  • What was your favorite story or anecdote that the guests shared? How did it add to your understanding or enjoyment of the musical?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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