Director: Jon M. Chu
Genre: Musical, Drama
Runtime: 143 Minutes
Main Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Meridez, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephanie Beatriz
Plot: Based on a Broadway musical, In the Heights tells the stories of the residents of Washington Heights, centering itself on Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner with dreams of moving to the Dominican Republic to fix-up his father’s old bar.
My Thoughts: This is the one I’ve been waiting for. You can keep Dune, you can tell Bond to sod off, all I’ve wanted to see this year is In the Heights. Last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda went from being that cool guy who wrote the songs for Moana to OHMYGOD there’s a new movie he’s partly responsible for and IHAVETOSEEIT. It was Hamilton that caused it, and with Anthony Ramos as the lead I’ve been so excited. I missed the advance previews but I was there on the day of general release with a hopeful smile on my face, and I didn’t leave disappointed. Speaking of Hamilton though, did anyone else catch the on hold music that Kevin (Jimmy Smits) was listening to? I was the only person in the room who clocked it and laughed out loud…
I’ve recently accepted that I am, indeed, a musicals person so I won’t pretend not to be anymore. The only thing that is stopping In the Heights from being perfect for me is that not enough of the songs were standouts. 96,000, In the Heights and Paciencia Y Fe were the stars of the show but there were too many others I’ve forgotten about. That is sure to change once I’ve listened to the soundtrack 1,000 times though.
I just loved the energy of it all, it’s impossible to not feel cheery and get caught up in the story. The choreography is simply phenomenal, oh how I would have loved to be watching them film those musical numbers. There’s just so much hope in this story, there’s no good versus evil, just a community getting by and trying to make their lives as happy as they can be. It’s going to grow on me every time I watch it, I think.
Best Bit: I couldn’t decide whether this needed to be a best bit or a worst bit to be honest, but Abuela’s story! My hayfever already had me sniffing but I haven’t ugly cried like I did for her musical number in a long, long time. That’s got to be the submission for the Oscars, surely? I also loved the short number with Lin-Manuel’s ice cone stand and Chris Jackson’s ice cream truck rivalry!
Worst Bit: We’re right on the back of a mini heatwave here in the UK so that whole storyline was hugely appreciated, but come on! You’re trying to tell me it’s 100 degrees and half of the characters are all still in jeans? Come back to me when you’re just in your underwear and still sweating. And that message goes out personally to Anthony Ramos…coughcoughwink.
Fun Trivia: Jimmy Smits was an early Heights supporter off-Broadway, before the musical was adapted to the screen. When he was asked to do the voice-over for the TV advertisement, he wouldn’t accept payment, but he just wanted some house seats for Broadway.
My Rating: 4 and a half takeaway coffees, just give them a sniff first in case the milk has gone bad.