Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes and Jon M. Chu came together to create a dynamic and impressive summer musical about diversity, community and navigating adult life in a rapidly changing neighborhood.
“In the Heights” is the movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s — creator of “Hamilton” — 2008 hit Broadway musical by the same name. This time around, after much anticipation, Miranda partnered with screenplay writer Quiara Alegría Hudes and director Jon M. Chu, known for “Crazy Rich Asians,” to bring the music and story to the big screen.
With a star-studded cast composed of Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Stephanie Beatriz and many more, the film is lively, magnetic and filled with energy. The charismatic Usnavi — played by Anthony Ramos — narrates the story as the viewer follows each character dreaming of a better life while navigating adulthood in Washington Heights as it’s rapidly being gentrified. With dreams from fashion design and owning a family bar to struggles with Ivy league school pressures, each of the characters’ stories are beautifully entwined and conveyed through impressive musical numbers.
Miranda, Hudes and Chu are all first-generation Americans, and despite growing up on opposite sides of the U.S., they can each relate to the others’ experiences. By creating “In the Heights,” Miranda wanted to tell stories like theirs through multiple lenses to craft a love letter to his own neighborhood.
“ … being first-generation kids, we always wonder, what would it have been like if our parents had stayed? Those really personal questions — what does ‘home’ even mean? And every character in this is answering it in a different way,” he said.
And that’s exactly what is emulated throughout this film. The diverse cast of characters and their lives are poignantly told over the course of scorching summer months. Each comes to terms with what their lives will look like moving forward through the displacement of some in their community, the loss of others and what it takes to obtain their dreams
As heartwarming, heartbreaking and existential these narratives are, “In the Heights” is a celebration of diversity and community told through vibrantly energetic song and dance numbers. Coming from a variety of genres, these numbers are as diverse as the rest of the cast. Blending traditional musical theater with hip-hop and Latin, producer Anthony Bregman recalled this blend of genres was key in depicting the realities of the Heights.
“Shooting ‘In the Heights’ in the actual Heights was key to us, because the stories being told in the screenplay are intrinsic to the community,” he said. “It really felt like what’s said in the movie, that the streets are alive with music. That hum, that energy pervaded the production and the performances.”
This film provides the beauty and energy we could all use at a time like now and truly conveys the spirit of love, loss and summer fun while growing up. If you’re looking for an impressive and refreshing twist on the musical genre or a grand passionate film that will keep you on your toes, then “In the Heights” is the perfect summer movie for you.
Availability: Available to stream on HBO Max and in theaters
Title: “In the Heights”
Star Rating: Five out of five stars
- Beautifully told and interconnected stories
- Musical numbers are overwhelmingly impressive
- Acting in superb
- Narrative is refreshing