In the Lin-Manuel Miranda Musical In the heightsdreams a young man who dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic to open a beach bar, the sexy, up-and-coming girl next door in his sights, only to be carried away even more by his friend’s graffiti art. Imagine that.
Lively and full of colorful characters, In the heights is an injection of pure energy, a fun, inspiring and easy-to-enjoy musical with a cast of extremely good looking people and creative rap-inspired songs that will appeal to all generations.
With Anthony Ramos as Usnavi, Melissa Barrera as Vanessa, Leslie Grace as Nina and Corey Hawkins as Benny, In the heights pulsates to its own beat and presents a melting pot of multicultural charisma. The cast has a seemingly natural chemistry with each other. As Miranda, who wrote the music, Quiara Alegria Hudes (screenplay) and director John M. Chu (Crazy rich Asians), keep the pace fast and furious.
In this sense, In the heights has similarities with Mirandas Hamilton. Both offer a diverse line-up, creative music and a forward-looking dynamic that rarely fades. In height stumbles after the penultimate and announced blackout; After Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz) delivers her powerful solo, the remaining characters seem to lose each other for much of the second act before they finally get going again, which leads to the climax.
If any, In the heights is crammed with characters who might work on stage but not quite as well in the cinema. The film spends a little too much time with random supporting characters that you don’t really get to know or need to know (we don’t care that Daniela, played by the spirited Daphne Rubin-Vega, is moving from the neighborhood?) central cast. Usnavi’s and Vanessa’s relationship is the biggest sacrifice; One moment, at the end of their first date, they each storm in their own direction (usually not a good sign), but the next, everything seems to be forgotten.
When Vanessa finally finds her inspiration and Usnavi excitedly shows her fashion collection, he naturally seems to be more interested in his friend’s graffiti. So not everything makes sense.
In the heights also has a false conflict, like Nina with returning to Stanford at the expense of her father’s savings and livelihood (simple fix: she could go to cheaper college). But that goes without saying with musical adaptations.
And at the end, In the heights is a fantastic musical adaptation. Inspirational, creative, and fun to watch, the movie is a celebration of living and pursuing your dreams. And really, really, really appreciate graffiti.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise stated.