Review: In the Heights

Quiara Alergia Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2005 musical, In the Heights, has been adapted for the big screen. Directed by John Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) In the Heights follows UsNavi (Anthony Ramos), a store owner in Washington Heights saving for his dream life in the Dominican Republic.

Along Usnavi’s journey we’re also introduced to Benny (Corey Hawkins), Nina (Leslie Grace), UsNavi’s love interest Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), “Aubela” Claudia (Olga Merediz), and Nina’s dad Kevin (Jimmy Smits). Each of these colorful characters has story that weaves into everything happening around UsNavi.

Director John Chu uses every tool at his disposal to make In the Heights look and feel bigger than a stage play. The CGI heavy number “When the Sun Goes Down” is what I expected the film to be, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The entire film is grounded in as much realism as possible and full of color and life. The biggest surprise is how every musical number looks and feels different. Each of those sequences could be a short film. The film’s best musical numbers are “96,000” (it goes through different genres of music) and “Paciencia Y Fe” – it’s just beautiful.

After the opening sequence it was clear Anthony Ramos is a star in the making. He’s has the charisma and the “it” factor that stars have. Newcomer Leslie Grace shows off her skills and why she’s an actress to keep your eye on. Olga Merediz is the heart of the film. She’s fantastic in every scene and carries one of the film’s best scenes all by herself.

Musical adaptations can be difficult, but John Chu pulls it off. In the Heights is one of the best films of the year and the perfect feel good film the summer. It has great music, some incredible visuals and fantastic choreography

Grade: A+