In the Heights
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
I had never heard of this Broadway musical adapted to film until last year, so I cannot judge it outside of the enormous shadow of Lin-Manuel's subsequent success with Hamilton. The latter is echoed here both directly with some Easter eggs, and indirectly in the singing voices of the two male leads who sound so precisely like Miranda's Hamilton and Leslie Odom Jr.'s Burr that I checked the credits to make sure that their singing voices weren't dubbed. I guess Miranda's lyrics just have a distinctive sound no matter who's singing them. Other Hamilton cast members do pop up in various roles large and small, and they're welcome to see.
I enjoyed the songs here, and even more, the visuals. Jon M. Chu knows what to do with large groups of background dancers on screen, and I noticed that the two-column "Dancers" list in the credits went on for several times the height of the screen. CGI brings some of the visual concepts to life with magical realism and little flourishes that I'll probably always think of first when I think of this movie in the future. I was annoyed that the showing was preceded by a brief pro-industry "aren't movies great? thank you for coming back to movie theaters!" video by the producers of this film that previewed many of its most breathtaking shots, to the point where I could tell that each was about to happen in the movie and the moments were a bit spoiled for me. But I'm still glad overall that I saw this on a big screen, because some of the shots are so larger-than-life that they deserve to be presented at maximal size.
Matthew Preston: Looking forward to seeing this. In your opinion, how appropriate (or inappropriate) would this film be for kids? We've let our kids (9 & 6) watch Hamilton many times if that helps as a gauge. − June 19, 2021 more by Matthew
Scott Hardie: Totally appropriate. There's some kissing and flirting and innuendo, a few swear words, and a few sad parts, none of it too intense I think. And they should really enjoy the songs and visuals. Let me know what they (and you) think of it when you get around to seeing it; I'm curious. − June 19, 2021 more by Scott
Erik Bates: more by Erik
Erik Bates: “It ruled.”
I was vaguely familiar with the plot of In The Heights before seeing this. I figured if it was Lin-Manuel Miranda that it was bound to be good.
And I was right.
Christopher Scott's choreography, as usual, was spot-on. He can blend hip hop and contemporary styles so effortlessly.
Throughout, you can hear Miranda's style, and how it was a definite precursor to Hamilton. I didn't realize that Alex Lacamoire orchestrated this, but after hearing it, you can't deny it.
It was nice to see Lin and Christopher Jackson, too, as they were Usnavi and Benny in the Broadway production.
Scott Hardie: I'm glad that you liked it! Obviously I did too. This is probably going to sound like a criticism, but now that I've seen Miranda and his collaborators make In the Heights and Hamilton, I want to see what else he can do in a totally different style. I'm really only familiar with Moana outside of those two works, and a bit of outside acting that he's done like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Drunk History. − June 29, 2021 more by Scott