The phrase “home is where your heart is” couldn’t get any truer in this highly upbeat cinematic experience based on the critically acclaimed Broadway musical of the same name. Brought to the big screen by Director Jon M. Chu – highly recognized for his work in Crazy Rich Asians – In the Heights features amazing choreography, catchy musical numbers, beautiful visual effects, and a diverse cast of characters, in a tale that explores themes of identity, community, family, and love in various forms.
Set in Washington Heights in upper New York City, the story is mostly narrated by Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos) as he recounts to his children the endeavors of numerous members in his tight-knit neighborhood and the events leading up to a blackout during a particularly hot summer. We’re immediately introduced to some of the Heights’ boisterous and eccentric residents, such as Kevin Rosario, who runs a taxi company; Benny, his employee and the love interest of his hardworking daughter, Nina; Sonny, Usnavi’s cousin; Vanessa; Usnavi’s long sought after love interest; Salon ladies Daniela, Carla, and Cuca; As well as Abuela Claudia, the neighborhood matriarch.
What really stands out about this movie is that it’s a love story told in multiple forms. Besides the more obvious romantic plots involving Usnavi and Vanessa, and Benny and Nina, the film majorly showcases familial love through the residents’ interactions with each other and their community. Everyone feels connected and included, with the changes happening around them seeming to greatly affect things in the entire neighborhood – almost like everyone breathes and carries the same spirit. There’s also a constant search for home and happiness, with our major characters each seeking to find a place where they feel they belong or discovering what they’re truly passionate about.
Though not completely being a summer release – having missed the mark by just a few short weeks – In the Heights does immediately set the tone for what should be, a highly welcomed return to summer blockbusters following last year’s slight drop in moviegoing due to Covid-19. With its fun energy, the film is sure to make you want to get up and move along to the spirit in your heart as well.
Rating: 4/5 Stars