In the Heights stars Anthony Ramos ( Broadway’s Hamilton), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), singer/songwriter Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera (TV’s Vida), Olga Merediz (Broadway’s In the Heights), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s Rent), Gregory Diaz IV (Broadway’s Matilda the Musical), Stephanie Beatriz (TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Dascha Polanco (TV’s Orange is the New Black) and Jimmy Smits (the Star Wars films).
Warner Bros. Pictures presents In the Heights in UK cinemas from June 18, 2021.
Lights up on Washington Heights…The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.
Since Hamilton became a worldwide phenomenon both on Broadway and on Disney Plus, it felt inevitable that we would get another musical from Lin Manuel Miranda. The Broadway hit, In the Heights, that won a Tony award, has finally been turned into a feature length movie from Crazy Rich Asians director, Jon M. Chu. So, is the latest musical to hit cinemas worth your time? Let’s discuss In the Heights.
Ever since the first trailer debuted on YouTube prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been extremely excited to see what Jon M. Chu and Lin Manuel Miranda have created for us. The trailer made the film look big, flashy and a musical that is designed for me. However, the movie somehow exceeded my expectations to actually become one of the best musicals of the last decade!
In the Heights centres on a variety of characters living in the neighbourhood of Washington Heights, on the northern tip of Manhattan. At the centre of the movie is Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner who looks after the aging Cuban lady next door, Abuela Claudia (played by Olga Merediz), and pines for the gorgeous girl working in the neighbouring beauty salon while dreaming of winning the lottery and escaping to the shores of the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Nina, a childhood friend of Usnavi’s returns to the neighbourhood after her first year at Stanford with surprising news for her father, who has spent his entire life savings on building a better life for Nina. Ultimately, Usnavi and the residents of Washington Heights get a dose of what it means to be home.
In the Heights is filled to the brim with huge, outrageously entertaining songs and dance sequences that never failed to put a smile on my face. The entire tone of the film is so light-hearted and when the credits start to roll, you just want to get up and dance your way out of the cinema. The opening song, titled ‘In the Heights’, and another sequence later on in the film set to ’96,000’ are two of the biggest and most bombastic sequences I have seen in any movie so far this decade. The dance routine is choreographed to perfection and each of the actors, Anthony Ramos in particular, looks like they are having a blast. Every single scene during its slightly lengthy two hours and twenty-three minute runtime is filled with heart while also having the massive and, at times, flashy moments that we want from a musical like this.
The acting from the entire cast is also brilliant. Anthony Ramos (known for A Star is Born) is the beating heart and soul of the film and you can understand his motivations and can feel his setbacks whenever something terrible happens to his character. Ramos’ Usnavi is such a likeable protagonist and as you progress through the movie, you can relate to his character. Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz and Jimmy Smits are all wonderful too. Each character is fleshed out beautifully and all have different aspirations and struggles which make them stand out in such a stacked cast. They all intertwine in such a perfect way and the chemistry between each of the actors is off the charts! I truly believe that Anthony Ramos and Olga Merediz are awards-worthy here by playing two very different characters but Chu’s direction allows you to connect and sympathise with them.
While it may be a little too long, In the Heights is the movie of the summer. From its big dance sequences, catchy songs and wonderful performances, there is so much to enjoy here. Anthony Ramos and Olga Merediz give the performances of their careers by allowing their characters to be so charming, fun and even bring a tear to your eye. The film does run at a brisk pace that never left me bored and when the movie ended, I just wanted to dance out of the cinema. If you have to see one movie on the big screen this summer, let it be In the Heights.
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