Title – In the Heights (2021)
Director – Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians)
Cast – Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV
Plot – An adaptation of the hit Broadway musical that shines a light on the life of residents of the northern Manhattan suburb Washington Heights, as they look to find ways to a better way of living whilst staying in touch with their cultural roots.
“Ignore anyone who doubts you”
Review by Eddie on 16/06/2021
Arriving into a world that hasn’t had a whole lot of joy and happiness shared around over the previous 12 months, Broadway musical adaptation In the Heights drops into a time and place where its dosage of colour, energy and Hollywoodized views of life where everyone is friends and loved up couples can dance along the side of a building in gravity defying displays arrives in what’s a case of perfect timing for all concerned.
A passion project for Hamilton heavyweight Lin-Manuel Miranda who has helped bring this musical to life on the big screen as both a producer, consultant and supporting star, Heights is vividly bought to life by the Broadway star and hot right now director Jon M. Chu, who on the back of his work with Crazy Rich Asians and this film here has showcased a real ability to craft culturally diverse products for a landscape crying out for more variety in the media they consume.
There’s no true plot holding everything in Heights together and not a single villain to lay your eyes on (unless you count the neighborhood’s newest dry-cleaner and his exorbitant prices) and at 140 minutes in runtime there’s a case to be made for this tale benefiting from a further trim in the editing suite but Chu and Miranda ensure this heart-felt and upscale Hallmark offering is a film impossible to hate as we as an audience are invited to a block party we can’t help but be glad we made the effort to attend.
Built around Anthony Ramos’s Usnavi (a star making turn for the young performer), a corner store grocery manager with dreams of escaping the neighborhood of Washington Heights to return to his home country of the Dominican Republic but torn due to his love of fellow Washington Heights resident Vanessa (another star making turn from actress Melissa Barrera), Heights throws countless musical numbers at us thick and fast and while some of the numbers are a little underwhelming, when Heights hits the high notes there aren’t many modern day musicals that could stand alongside it and Chu and Miranda should be commended for embedding their creative feature with heart, soul and fun to spare creating an often magical movie going experience.
Opening with an extended entrée to the main course that Hamilton fans will be pleased too know takes the same hip-hop inspired approach to song and dance numbers that made Miranda’s work such a talk-worthy exercise, Heights is rarely too far away from another eye-popping set piece that will have your feet tapping and your heart beating and whether the film is taking us on a sojourn to the local swimming pool, walks through the streets with nothing more than fireworks lighting the way or showcasing the local battle of wits between a shaved ice salesman and the local ice cream truck, there’s a lot too love here and while cynics will find lots to pull apart and find issue with, its hard to imagine how one could not find joy in such a whimsical ride.
Accessible to those of varied age, background or race, Heights is going to be a film that is oft-enjoyed for the years yet to come and while its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, right here and now this fun and exciting bout of goodness and goodwill arrives at the perfect time.
Final Say –
A fun and enthusiastic Hollywood musical with a great ethnic twist, In the Heights may outstay its welcome in parts and feature a few song and dance routines that could’ve been cut without issue but as a whole this is a joyous movie going event that showcases what big screen magic is all about.
4 lottery tickets out of 5