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How exciting, as movie theaters open back up, to experience a fun summer musical! I had the opportunity to attend a virtual screening for In The Heights ahead of its release date. This movie, though, deserves a big screen viewing!
I happily returned to my local theater, for the first time in over a year, for the thrill of watching this amazing musical as it’s meant to be watched.
Check out my review for In The Heights and then enjoy the first big hit of the summer in a theater near you.
In The Heights Cast
This film version of the Broadway musical stars Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Berrara, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In The Heights is directed by Jon M. Chu. The screenplay is based on the musical and music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Quiara Alegria Hudes contributed to the concept and the screenplay.
The musical carries a PG-13 rating, for mild language and suggestive references, and has a run time of 2 hours and 23 minutes.
In The Heights Synopsis
The movie focuses on the lives of a variety of people living in northern Manhattan. Washington Heights, referred to simply as “The Heights”, contains small mom and pop shops, thriving and struggling businesses and generations of families.
Dreams of all kinds thrive in this close knit community too. Meet the dreamers and those who encourage them.
At the heart of The Heights is Usnavi (Ramos), who runs a little neighborhood bodega. Everyone in the community stops by every morning for coffee and perhaps a lottery ticket. Usnavi sells both while offering encouraging words of advice.
Usnavi nurtures a sueñito, a little dream he’s carried since his childhood. He dreams of purchasing and reviving his deceased father’s beach café in Dominican Republic. After saving and scrimping for years, it seems that Usnavi’s dream is finally within reach.
Usnavi’s younger cousin, Sonny (Diaz IV), helps in the bodega and pushes his cousin to ask Vanessa out. Sonny dreams of going to college, a difficult sueñito to fulfill as his family cannot afford it and the boy is an undocumented immigrant.
Vanessa (Barrera), is Usnavi’s love interest, although she doesn’t know that. She works at the neighborhood salon. However the salon is relocating to the Bronx, due to increasing rent. Vanessa’s sueñito is to rent her own apartment downtown and become a fashion designer.
Her dream gets an immediate setback when her application for the apartment is denied, due to a lack of credit.
Kevin Rosario and His Daughter Nina
Kevin (Smits) owns and operates the neighborhood taxi company. He employs Benny (Hawkins). Nina (Grace) returns home from her first year at Stanford. She is fulfilling her father’s dream. However, Nina comes home to tell him that she’s dropping out of college due to loneliness and financial strains. Nina misses The Heights and feels out of place at Stanford.
Kevin sold off half of the building he owns, to pay for Nina’s college education. He is not easily deterred from seeing his daughter graduate from Stanford.
Benny loves Nina. With him, Nina finds life simpler. However, she worries about the future and struggles with self doubt. Benny reminds her of what’s important and tells her that she is destined for greatness.
The matriarch of the neighborhood, Abuela (Merediz) took Usnavi in as a boy and raised him. While not actually related to him, this kind and wise woman serves as his… and everyone’s…abuela. She remembers her childhood in Cuba, where she and her mother lived in poverty.
In New York, Claudia endured hardships and overcame challenges to get to where she is today. Her role is to encourage everyone else to pursue their dreams and never give up. Abuela’s favorite words are “paciencia y fe”…”patience and faith”.
A Summer to Remember
In The Heights, summer brings record breaking temperatures. The whole neighborhood closes down early one day and everyone heads to the community pool to cool off.
On the way there, Usnavi learns that one of the lottery tickets the bodega sold won $96,000. When he shares the exciting news, the whole neighborhood goes wild, each person imaging what he or she could do with that money.
The heat continues. Mr. Piraguero (Miranda), who sells snow cones, sadly sings about how the new ice cream truck in the neighborhood is stealing his business.
A black out occurs, due to the extreme heat, and the whole neighborhood shuts down for days. It’s a breaking point for some…and a time of shift and change for others…and a time for making dreams come true for a few, in unexpected ways.
My Thoughts About In The Heights
As stated, this movie is a musical, which is one of my favorite genres. The characters sing much of the dialogue. And they dance too!
I love this musical. It beautifully showcases the richness of the Latin culture through music and dance. And it shines a brilliant light on the importance of family, community and encouraging one another toward the realization of dreams.
Those themes thrill me. As a dreamer myself, I love watching the different characters discover more about who they are as dreams shift, change and manifest. I appreciate the closeness of the community and how generations of people pave the way for each new generation.
This is such a fun film. I can’t help but smile and tap my foot over the musical numbers. The movie goers in my theater applauded with me at the end.
We all have dreams. The time has come. Let In The Heights inspire you to keep pursuing yours. Catch it at your local theater or on HBOMax.
Did you enjoy this review? Check out this one too: Nomadland
Get the In The Heights movie soundtrack HERE.
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