I’m not too terribly familiar with the Broadway musical, In the Heights . However, I have been looking forward to the movie adaptation ever since I heard of its release. Seeing it brings back a lot of memories, not just from the musical, but from my time spent living in New York City as well. It’s an incredible film that showcases the diverse people that make up the city and portrays various perspectives of life in the city.

In the Heights is a musical about a woman who starts a dance group in a neighborhood in New York City. I had never heard of it, but while looking at my Netflix queue, I realized that it had been on the show in the past, so I looked up the program online and was surprised at how well it was received. This musical was made in 2007, which seems like a long time ago, but I actually remember seeing it – I had no idea that it had been that popular. All of the songs were catchy, and even though I can see some of them being easily forgotten, I enjoyed the show. I also saw that it won an award for the best musical in 2007.

A musical about a bunch of young girls in New York City? Yes, I will probably see it, as will most of you!

I discovered the film In the Heights by reading the book Behind the Scenes about the making of Hamilton, which I bought last summer. In case you didn’t know: Lin-Manuel Miranda got the idea for what would eventually become Hamilton during a Broadway performance of In the Heights, but that aside…. because this review isn’t about Hamilton, it’s about Heights. And after seeing this movie, I have to say that this story should NOT be known as the musical that Lin-Manuel Miranda did before Hamilton, because, oh my gosh, the story On High is just as good!

The plot of On High spans three days, before, during, and after the blackout that cripples New York City (although it resembles the infamous blackout of 2003, most of the series was written in 1999). The narrator of the story is Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a local bodega owner who dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic. Through Usnavi, we are introduced to several characters who live and dream in Washington Heights. Among them are Vanessa, an aspiring fashion designer; Abuela, who has adopted the entire neighborhood as her family; Nina, who moved back to the city after graduating from Stanford; Benny, a taxi dispatcher (and Nina’s potential boyfriend); and Sonny, Usnavi’s young cousin, who helps her run the winery. The characters are colorful and I was quickly drawn into the story. I was worried that I would have a hard time connecting with the story, but I had to know that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music would make it easy to immerse myself in the story.

My Thoughts on: In the Heights (2023)

It’s simple: If you liked Hamilton’s music, you’ll like On High’s. Like Hamilton, In the Heights is full of rap and freestyle tracks, although there is clearly a Latino slant here that is understandably absent from Hamilton. Music gives life to an entire culture throughout history, and it is so beautiful because this culture is full of life, passion, faith and courage to move forward in any direction despite great obstacles. The community shown is so vibrant and full of life that you feel like you can walk across the screen and be with everyone, and I love stories where the world is so well realized.

And yes, this story does not shy away from mentioning the obstacles that people of color face on a daily basis. Several times the characters mention that following a dream is not always easy, sometimes even painful. And I like that the movie makes it clear that sometimes you can’t make your dreams come true, even if you try. It’s definitely hard to hear, but it’s honest, and I think that’s good, because we’re always encouraged to pursue our dreams, even if it hurts sometimes. The film also implies that sometimes your dream is not what you think it is. It’s something I’m seeing more and more in movies, but On High does it very well.


My Thoughts on: In the Heights (2023)

Copyright : 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: McAll Polay.

Caption: (from left) NOAH KATHALA as Graffiti Pete, GREGORY DIAS IV as Sonny, KOREY HAWKINS as Benny and ANTHONY RAMOS as Usnavi in IN THE HEIGHTS, a Warner Bros. production. Photos.

I didn’t expect On High to make me cry, but one part of this story absolutely overwhelmed me. The focus is on Paciencia y Fe and Alabanza and the character of Abuela. I’m not someone who likes to cry at the movies, but the scenes with those two songs tore my heart out in a way I wasn’t expecting when I started watching the movie.

I think my two favorite songs (that didn’t make me cry) are In the Heights and 96,000. I love the opening song because it makes you dive headfirst into the colorful world of Washington Heights, and it was a really fun song as I shook my head to the music. And I love the song 96,000 because it took me back to my own childhood when I went swimming in the community center pool and everyone was there.

I also like that Lin-Manuel Miranda appears in the film as a Piragua salesman, as well as a cameo by Christopher Jackson.

I have to say that In the Heights is definitely the summer movie we’ve been waiting for. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, it’s like the whole summer is in one movie, the good and the bad. I know that On High is currently airing on HBO Max, but if your local theater is open, I highly recommend seeing the film in the theater. It is such a good experience and deserves to be seen on the biggest screen.

Let me know what you think of On High in the comments below, and have a great day!

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How do you load…The musical In the Heights, which was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been the center of controversy recently. Since its opening night, it has been met with no end of critiques from all sides. While some point out that the ending was incredibly anti-climatic, others have criticized the ending as being anti-musical by placing the emphasis on the cast, rather than the music.. Read more about in the heights movie run time and let us know what you think.

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