In The Heights, rated PG-13
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.