The film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical currently holds a 97% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 130 reviews and hits theaters and on HBO Max on Thursday.
Directed by Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), “In the Heights” explores the lives of residents of the Hispanic community from Washington Heights to Manhattan. The story centers on bodega owner Usnavi, who dreams of leaving New York and opening a bar in his home country, the Dominican Republic.
Usnavi has a crush on Vanessa, who works at the local beauty salon and dreams of moving downtown to become a fashion designer. Nina and Benny are the other central couple in the musical. Benny is a dispatcher for a taxi company owned by Nina’s father, but dreams of starting his own business.
Nina has just returned to town after a year at Stanford University, but she doesn’t want her dad to know she dropped out because he’s struggling to find the money to send her to the city. prestigious school. She is also the only one in her family to go to university.
Within these love stories are other members of the community who face their own issues, including landlords and realtors who drive up rents in the area. There is also the heat wave and a lottery ticket valued at $ 96,000.
Critics praised Chu’s directing and Quiara Alegria Hudes script adaptation of the story that she helped Miranda bring on stage. Anthony Ramos was praised for his breakout performance as Usnavi, and critics were delighted with the film’s bright colors and flashy dance numbers.
“To quote ‘In the Heights’ itself, the streets are made of music in summer’s truly joyful, splashing and exuberant first film,” Ann Hornaday wrote in her review of the film for The Washington Post.
Here’s what critics thought of “In the Heights” ahead of its debut Thursday.
AO Scott, The New York Times
Scott, like other critics, has also put the spotlight on Ramos.
“Ramos’ charisma is perfectly suited to the role,” he wrote. “His modesty is as winning and genuine as his bravado, and he is a strong stage singer as well as a subtle film actor. “
Ramos portrayed Usnavi Sonny’s cousin in the musical and portrayed John Laurens and Philip Hamilton as part of the original cast of Miranda’s other Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton”.
“’In the Heights,’ which opened on Broadway in 2008 and was slated to hit theaters last year, feels like a freshly scratched piragua on a scorching July day from the moment and as permanent as the beams. from the George Washington Bridge, ”Scott wrote. “It’s traditional American entertainment in the best sense of the word – an affirmation of impatience and faith, a celebration of community bonds and individual common sense, a testament to the power of art to transform struggles in matters of dreams. “
Read the full New York Times review.
Clarisse Loughrey, independent
“But Jon M Chu’s throaty, dizzying adaptation is hitting theaters a year late, in a world still trying to emerge from the shadows of a devastating pandemic. In that sense, it’s a gift. “
Loughrey said the film was keenly aware of the musical’s attachment to the New York tradition and community of Washington Heights. Chu takes his hat off to Esther Williams’ aquamusicals and the West Side Story ballet, while respecting the cultural history of the neighborhood. During the “Carnaval del Barrio”, a tapestry of flags floats above the crowd, including the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
“‘In the Heights’ is a musical triumph, which is not afraid to raise its voice to the sky,” she wrote.
Read the full Independent review.
Rafael Motamayor, observer
Motamayor noted that Chu and Hudes delve deep into the play’s themes of dreams, but also contextualize some of the characters’ motivations and their struggles with what it means to be a part of the Latinx community and the pressure to inherit hopes and dreams. dreams of your parents in a way that was not explored in the stage production.
He said there are times when the film’s social commentary can feel “really cheesy” and there are a few subplots that feel stuck in the blunt narrative, ending up distracting from the main story.
“Make no mistake, this is a musical turned into a blockbuster, because Chu treats the wide shots of dozens of background dancers with the same eye you might see Christopher Nolan applying to ‘Tenet’ or the Russo Brothers’ apply to ‘Endgame,’ there’s a sense of melancholy beneath the upbeat lyrics and relentless optimism of the characters that surfaces at several points in the film, a recognition that things are fading, neighborhoods change and people are leaving, but we could also throw a big party before that happens. “In the Heights” is that party, and we’re just lucky to be invited. “
Read the full Observer review.
Monica Castillo, The Scarf
The “haunting” dance number features contemporary ballet and tells the story of Claudia’s mother leaving Havana for New York.
“Shot on what looks like the old trains and docks of the New York Transit Museum, the musical changes its tone during ‘Paciencia y Fe,’ taking audiences back in time to revisit painful memories of their struggle to survive in America and America. peace to finally feel at home again, ”wrote Monica Castillo in her film review for The Wrap.
The “Paciencia y Fe” streak has been hailed by many critics for showing the tension many Hispanics feel as they adjust to life in America, a place where anything is meant to be possible.
Castillo noted that “In the Heights” is a rarity in Hollywood. Its Latino characters “live a normal life, outside of gang violence or narco and outside stereotypes.”
“How do we rarely see ourselves in a job and nurturing our ambitions; in most films do we even have enough lines of dialogue to have ambitions? ” she wrote.
The film shows the importance of inclusiveness and diversity not only in our neighborhoods, but in the entertainment industry.
“With ‘In the Heights’, Chu delivers the Latino equivalent of his previous box office hit ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and takes it out of the park,” she wrote.
Read the full review of The Wrap.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Rotten Tomatoes.