Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

My Review of the movie IN THE HEIGHTS

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In The Heights, rated PG-13
*** ½

In The Heights, the first film we have seen in the theatre since early March 2020, is the film version of the popular Broadway musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton. It is about a block in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. I really enjoyed this film, and especially the sense of community and the song and dance scenes.
The film was directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians). The screenplay was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, based on the Broadway musical by Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana). The choreography was by three-time Emmy nominee Christopher Scott (So You Think You Can Dance).
Although we meet a lot of characters from the neighborhood, the film primarily follows the stories of three characters and their dreams. Usnavi, played by Anthony Ramos, who plays the role Miranda did on Broadway, is the owner of a bodega, who dreams of going back to the Dominican Republic to run his father’s beachfront bar. He is close to his dear Abuela, a grandmother figure played by Olga Merediz (who also played the role in the Broadway musical, for which she received a Tony Award nomination). Usnavi employs and mentors Sonny, played by Gregory Diaz IV, who is a “Dreamer”, the son of illegal immigrant parents. Usnavi likes Vanessa, played by Melissa Barrera, who works in a hair and nail salon who dreams of moving downtown to fully pursue her dream of being a fashion designer.

Nina, played by Leslie Grace, was the one who was going to make it out of the neighborhood and be a success as she went off to Stanford University. She returns to the neighborhood thinking that she is a failure, as her father Kevin, played by Emmy winner Jimmy Smits (L.A. Law), tries to raise the money to pay her tuition. Her ex-boyfriend, who still cares for her, is Benny, played by Emmy nominee Corey Hawkins (Survive).
I really liked the feeling of community that you see in this film. I felt that I cared about the characters, as they deal with daily life, their dreams, relationships and a city-wide blackout due to the heat.
Themes in the film include community, friends, family, dreams and sacrifice. Content concerns include some adult language and suggestive dancing and clothing.
I really enjoyed this film, though it felt long at almost two and a half hours. There are also some political messages included in the film. But overall, In the Heights was an excellent return to the theatre. If you enjoy musicals, I think you might enjoy this film.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. amazon.com/author/billpence amazon.com/author/tammypence

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