‘In the Heights’ Review: A Summer Splash Hit Making Waves Across the Industry

The film was originally a stage play that put Lin-Manuel Miranda on the map as a star writer and actor in Broadway Photo by Stone Ray | The Signal

A joyful experience that demands to be seen, “In the Heights” blends breathtaking visuals with prodigious musical numbers for a fresh summer movie-going experience. The industry has been searching for a film to revitalize the theater business and bring back the summer box office glory once held pre-pandemic. “In the Heights” is the kind of energizing film that does this job and a mile more, giving audiences an earnest piece of art reimagining the musical film landscape. 

The past few weeks have seen the slow comeback of movie theaters with films like “Godzilla Vs. Kong”, “Cruella” and “A Quiet Place part 2”. By nature, each of these films mirrors a darker tone reflecting the past year full of somber preludes bending to the whim of the coronavirus. It was only fitting that a film brimming with euphoria be next in line to tackle the box office.

The film is set in Washington Heights, New York, a neighborhood on the brink of disappearing. A story reeling about the fight against gentrification and the will for a better life. The plot is set between three days and was created by “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film adaptation was taken over by “Crazy Rich Asians” director John M. Chu, warranting a visual landscape unlike any in theaters this year. Seriously, the color palette in this film is otherworldly. 

Through all of the fun and splendor the film provides, many centralized plot areas become quite evident through a few of the main characters. Strong identification with the American dream is realized through Usnavi (Anthoney Ramos) and Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), as they both seek a life beyond the Heights. Usanvis’ dream warrants itself even deeper into Dominican culture as he seeks to return home to the Dominican Republic. 

Each of these themes and messages helps the film find the little narration it has, exposing the lack of characterization within the plot. At times it felt like I was watching a plotless musical that had no actual meaning other than to dazzle my gaze. Through slight hints of character building, the film at times became a cohesive story but ultimately fell short of a prominent storyline that would resonate with viewers. 

A film more for the eyes than the heart; nonetheless, it is still hard not to celebrate in all of its glory. “In the Heights” truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that will encourage more movie-goers to return to theaters.