MOVIE REVIEW: “In the Heights” stars Anthony Ramos (A Star Is Born , Hamilton), Melissa Barrera (El Hotel, Scream ), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, BlacKkKlansman), Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz (The Place Beyond the Pines, Godmothered), Jimmy Smits (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, NYPD Blue [TV series]), Gregory Diaz IV (Vampires vs. the Bronx, New Amsterdam [TV series]), Daphne Ruben-Vega (Wild Things, Jack Goes Boating), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine [TV series], Short Term 12), Dascha Polanco (The Cobbler, Orange is the New Black [TV series]), Noah Catala, and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns, Hamilton). It is directed by Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Crazy Rich Asians), with the screenplay being written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (Vivo).
Based on the musical stage play, this film follows Usnavi (Ramos), a bodega owner in New York who dreams of leaving for his native Dominican Republic. Alongside him are several other residents in his small town who have their own aspirations.
You know, there’s an upside to this whole same-day release thing HBO Max has got going on: you can watch movies you wouldn’t care to see in theaters right away.
Be it as it may, I’m not an avid musical fan. To make matters worse (at least in regards to this film), I was never interested in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s other, far more popular musical, “Hamilton.” Hearing my siblings play and sing the songs on loop forever buried my desire to check out the spectacle for myself. Sorry not sorry. Why then did I see “In the Heights”? Well… my family made a movie night of it, so… why not, I guess?
Surprisingly, I think I ended up enjoying this one more than any of my siblings (who were really eager to see it). How ironic. The songs are fairly catchy, the performances are fun, and the set pieces are pretty cool. It’s what you’d hope for from any musical, and while I have no ties to the genre, “In the Heights” gives a show.
With a plethora of characters to bounce around to, there’s quite a bit to chew. Granted, it’s not like the storylines are that unique. Everyone desires a life different from what they have, each from a particular perspective. What separates them from other films is the Latinx culture. It plays out in the backgrounds of our characters as well as the song compositions. And I’m glad there’s this perspective, because otherwise… it’d be too familiar.
Of course, that’s not to say that this story is all hunky dory. What I found to be the biggest issue of “In the Heights” is… it’s long. Like, really long. Capping out at two and a half hours, I checked my phone often. Actually… I was messaging people while watching the movie. Yikes. It’s not like the film was that boring, but… it just wasn’t as captivating. We jump from song to song, almost all of which are pretty good; but the story that gels it all together wanes. This could just be me, I don’t know.
All of this to say, I wouldn’t knock “In the Heights.” It holds some fun moments, and plenty of poppin’ music to keep you entertained. Like I said before, I enjoyed the look of this movie, and the choreography made for a bright show. But it’s not something I would find myself watching again (maybe listening to the soundtrack though…). FINAL SCORE: 79%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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