Review Roundup: “In The Heights” Soars

“If you have any doubt about the theatrical movie-going experience, In the Heights is the film to assuage it. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’ll make you believe,” writes Jeva Lange for The Week, in a perfect summation of why seeing a film like John M. Chu’s In The Heights in the theater is such a must. In The Heights is one of the reasons why The Big Screen is Back, the type of film that just begs to be seen on the biggest screen you can find. And now that the critics are weighing in, you have even more reason to get your ticket.

Before we get to the reviews, a brief synopsis is in order. In the Heights tells the story of Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner with big dreams living in the largely Hispanic-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. This script comes from screenwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes, which she adapted from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play of the same name. The cast is terrific—joining Ramos are Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, and Jimmy Smits.

Now, let’s take a brief, spoiler-free peek at those reviews:

“In the Heights is a celebration of a rich culture and a group of dreamers, who are messy and full of contradictions, but whose emotions always ring true,” says Slashfilm‘s Hoai-Tran Bui.

“In the Heights feels as welcome and refreshing in the summer of 2021 as a piragua, the shaved-ice-and-syrup treat that makes an appearance early in the film’s big opening number, hawked from a rolling cart with an infernally catchy jingle,” writes Slate‘s Dana Stevens.

“That’s the mark of a vital work of art: that it has something new to say each time someone is willing to listen. I suspect we’ll be listening to In the Heights for a long, long while,” writes Vox‘s Alissa Wilkinson.

“Like its source, the movie is a blast, one that benefits enormously from being shot on the streets of Washington Heights,” writes Variety‘s Peter Debruge.

In the Heights is a brash and invigorating entertainment, a movie of tender, delicate moments that nonetheless revels unabashedly in its own size and scale,” writes the Los Angeles Times Justin Chang.

In The Heights hits theaters and HBO Max on June 11.

Here’s the official synopsis from Warner Bros.:

The creator of “Hamilton” and the director of “Crazy Rich Asians” invite you to a cinematic event, where the streets are made of music and little dreams become big… “In the Heights.”

Lights up on Washington Heights…The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.

“In the Heights” fuses Lin-Manuel Miranda’s kinetic music and lyrics with director Jon M. Chu’s lively and authentic eye for storytelling to capture a world very much of its place, but universal in its experience.

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Featured image: Caption: (Left Center-Right Center) ANTHONY RAMOS as Usnavi and MELISSA BARRERA as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Macall Polay


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