In the Heights (2020)

A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.
  • 7.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Quiara Alegría Hudes, Marc Klein, Writer:
  • Jon M. Chu, Director:
  • Mara Jacobs, Jay Z, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Scott Sanders, Producer:

Trailer:

9 / 10

It's like watching a bunch of crowd chanting, singing, and dancing for the World Cup.

Came in with a very low expectation, not knowing this is inspired by a Broadway musical, not to mention I couldn't care less if this movie was delayed because of Covid-19 and had never seen the trailer before prior to my first viewing, I was stunned and shocked to admit that this is in my top 3 Broadway/theater-based musical genre after La La Land & The Greatest Showman.

Rarely we get to see a Hollywood film where all of the cast are led by the Latino community. This movie speaks volumes for them, where the central message lies on hope, racism, dual standard, dreams, family, friendship, the art of letting go and what it means to become an outsider.

In the Heights is inspired by its Broadway musical and as far as the story goes, they cut Nina's storyline and it gets sidetracked when hers should also be the highlight alongside Vanessa's. The story doesn't go as deep as Les Miserables but isn't as shallow as The Greatest Showman either (The only problem with TGS for me), it stays somewhere in the middle, just enough to get your attention.

In the Heights sends chills down your spine every time you witness the cast dancing and singing. The best thing is that the music and showmanship get better the more times you watch it and I will assure you, you'll have your fingers tapping backward and forward on your device to rewatch some of your preferred numbers. My top 3 songs include In the Heights, 96,000 & Carnavel del Barrio.

What's outstanding in this film is that there are parts in almost every dance number, some dancers go unsynchronized with the choreography. But as the audience, you couldn't care less because the songs are so juicy and refreshing, the only thing you want is to just rejoice and have yourself grooving. What's even better is that the unsynchronization actually makes the movie better, with deeper related metaphors; in that we accept people's imperfections and to let go of the insecurities within us and just... enjoy your life to the fullest!

One thing though, the colour grading could have been better. It paints this dour, gloomy, half-cooked gritty world all over it. Even when the scorching Sun arrives, it seems to have appeared somewhat dull. I get the intended meaning behind it, that this community's life is pale and has its sufferings amidst Summer is happening but imagine if the colour is as bright as The Greatest Showman or La La Land or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. You'll be drooling all over your shirt ??. P. S: Colours in musicals play a pivotal role in enlightening the world and its mood.

In the Heights is a cinematic treat for your eyes and ears; amidst the pandemic happening, the economic downturning and the mental health issues arising, there has never been a perfect time to release this film until now in Summer! This is an important film for all and it's what we need!

Now, I watch the trailer and listen to their music about 50 times a day, I promote it on my Instagram (@iamianiman) every day so that my friends know this is the hidden gem of the Summer. Can't wait to watch it again and again and again especially in the cinemas!

Verdict: In the Heights really sets the bar high, making it incomparable with other contenders this Summer. This crowd pleasing event is the ultimate cure for the world and the rekindle of lost friendship, shattered hopes and retired dreams all because of the pandemic.

P. S: If The Greatest Showman were created for the Winter, In The Heights were created for the Summer.

7 / 10

Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical is authentic, energetic and fun

I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is incredibly talented, and thought "Hamilton" was incredible (although I've only seen it on Disney+, and sadly never on stage.) Needless to say, I was looking forward to this musical slice-of-life set in the vibrant neighborhood of Washington Heights in uptown Manhattan. The film centers around a bodega owner named Usnavi, whose parents immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. Joyous and filled with energy, the movie's music is often incredibly well done. Lin-Manuel Miranda's lyrics are fast, kinetic, and clever, combined with plenty of well-choreographed singing and dancing. The film also does an outstanding job showing the diversity, pluralism and cultural heritage of Washington Heights, and the various communities and cultures found there.

With its catchy music and thoughtfully inclusive cultural representation, the film is certainly a crowd pleaser. I'm happy to say that the audience I saw it with applauded after many of the musical numbers, and also gave a hearty applause at the end. It's certainly great to see an audience in a theater respond to a film like that again. That said, the film does fall short of greatness for a few reasons. It could have used more of a plot in between its musical numbers, which is part of the reason why it's not quite as impactful as something like "Hamilton." Usnavi is a generally engaging protagonist, but some of the other characters could have been more developed. Finally, the film does run a bit too long. Being a bit thin on plot but comparatively lacking in impressive musical set pieces compared to the rest of the film, the second act certainly feels like it drags a bit in comparison to the first and third acts. Yet despite these criticisms, there's something truly radiating about the film's vibrancy and joyful enthusiasm--which is, frankly, what we all need right now. Recommended. 7.5/10.

10 / 10

A future classic in the making

I loved this movie! The direction, casting, acting, cinematography, music, dancing are all top tier. I went through my entire range of emotions. It definitely deserves awards! The music is going to be the soundtrack of my summer! I highly recommend.

4 / 10

In the Heights review: pretty mediocre

I found it to be below average. What was the story? Who was the main character? No narrative. I wasn't exactly sure what the story was when watching it. It has a lot of style with great visuals and musical numbers.

7 / 10

An absolute delight with rewatch quality

Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit stage musical (before Hamilton) finally crosses over to the silver screen after years of development hell. Whether you've seen it live or not, In the Heights is sure to take skepticism and leave the audience dancing in the aisles.

In the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights lives twentysomething Usnavi, who aspires to go beyond the bodega store he oversees to the Dominican Republic. The barrio is full of colorful characters, including Abuela Claudia, the wise matriarchal figure of the barrio; Vanessa, an optimistic fashion designer; salon owner and queen of gossip Daniela; Usnavi's younger cousin Sonny, who has ambitions beyond his slacker style; and Benny, Usnavi's best friend and a dispatcher working towards opening his own business. Returning home that sweltering July morning is Nina, who's dropped out of college despite the neighborhood's awe of her being the only one to get away. Her father Kevin, owner of the local cab service, has been managing finances to keep Nina educated.

The cast is stacked with talent of stage and screen, with the likes of Anthony Ramos (Hamilton), Olga Merediz (reprising her Tony-nominated role), Melissa Barrera (Vida), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Gregory Diaz IV (Vampires vs. The Bronx), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), singer/songwriter Rose Leslie, and Jimmy Smits. The adaptation, as one would assume, had to alter from the stage production but that job is done by none other than Quiara Alegria Hudes, who penned the musical's book. Three-time Emmy nominee Christopher Scott really brings the musical numbers to life through such exquisite choreography that I, a huge musical fan, got lost in. In the director's chair is LXD creator Jon M. Chu, known for the financially successful Crazy Rich Asians and notorious flop Jem and the Holograms (the latter of which I no longer hold him responsible), and his skills shine in this enchanting tale of unity, community and following your dreams. 5/5.