After the success of musical Hamilton based on America's founding fathers, particularly after its Disney+ release last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda is back with Broadway adaptation, In The Heights. Directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), it tells the story of a bodega owner named Usnavi who is torn between keeping his Washington Heights store or retiring to the Dominican Republic. Full of huge musical numbers and a tremendous amount of heart, In The Heights is a spectacle deserving of a cinema trip. However, the pacing issues take away a noticeable amount of enjoyment.
Written by Becca Johnson
In The Heights' main aim is to tell the stories of its inhabitants, and it achieves this perfectly. From Usnavi's confusion about which country his heart lies to Nina's troubles fitting in at her college away from home, the movie teaches us of the struggles faced by those who live in the heights. As the area becomes gentrified and businesses struggle to stay alive, we get an honest and often emotional look at the lives of people who just want to feel seen and heard. The characters featured are mostly likeable, yet always fun and entertaining with a lot to say. The movie has a huge cast and every performance was up to scratch, particularly from lead Anthony Ramos and Olga Merediz who played her role as Abuela Claudia perfectly.
In the Heights is full to the brim with musical numbers, and the majority of them deliver. The lyrics, written well by Miranda himself, manage to pack in humour, romance and even a little history. It's hard to stop yourself from getting up and having a dance as the music draws from many styles of Latino music from the years. There is an equal mix of fast-paced club tunes and slow romantic tracks, each one guiding the story forward and adding to the wider plot by teaching us about every individuals personal struggles. The choreography makes these tunes even bigger; the routines are a gorgeous spectacle that make the movie incredibly immersive.
Where the movie struggles is with its pacing. In The Heights clocks in at a pretty lengthy 143 minutes, and it demands your attention at every second due to its extremely fast lyrics and its sporadic use of Spanish. Whilst the movie attacking all senses is one of its redeeming qualities, by the end its easy to feel a little overwhelmed. The opening of the movie sets the tone immediately and the movie ends with a bang, so some tighter editing around the middle could've made In The Heights feel a little more succinct and concise.
In the Heights is a movie that's out there to impress, and it will easily become one of the biggest movies of the summer. It's bright, loud, flamboyant and incredibly entertaining, with tremendous talent both in front of and behind the camera. The songs are catchy, the dance routines are captivating and the cinematography is beautiful with some really quirky editing featured throughout. However, the run-time can be felt when the plot slows down, and there were many scenes where it felt like the movie should've ended. This would definitely work better on Broadway.