Review: ‘In the Heights’ raises the bar for this year’s film musicals

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Of course, there’s no certainty, as studios (such as CNN, a part of WarnerMedia) will continue their practice of simultaneously dropping the film on HBO Max. Whatever the size of the screen, the result is a film whose old-fashioned charm practically leaps from it, and whose tune will go on for days.

The Tony Award-winning musical made its debut in 2008 with Miranda in the cast, amounting to a down payment for the upcoming blockbuster “Hamilton.” However, the story here has less to do with the country’s origins than the author, who is trying to focus on the neighborhoods of New York, Washington Heights, and the Strivers and Dreamers (including the Dreamers).
Although Miranda has only a minor role in the film, the lead role goes to “Hamilton” co-star Anthony Ramos, who work together at HBO. “in treatment,” Looks like he’ll turn out to be an even bigger star this summer than he was going into it. He plays the role of Usnavi, who narrates the story, presenting a fable about the neighborhood to a group of smiling children.

The story finds him running a local bodega, trying to end up shopping for Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who has her own aspirations to survive and become a fashion designer. The other leading couple share a past, in which Nina (Leslie Grace) comes home from Stanford, unsure whether she is related, and Benny (Corey Hawkins) working for Nina’s father (Jimmy Smuts). Who is very proud of his daughter’s achievements. did not listen to his concerns.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood itself is changing, threatening its everyone-knows-your-name charm with gentrification. Usnavi is also considering a break to return to his native Dominican Republic, although the prospect of romance has a way of complicating even the best-laid plans.

The simplicity of the story blends into the heady nature of the music, from the beautiful ballads to a Busby Berkeley-style rendition of “96,000” at the local pool and a beautifully choreographed tribute to Fred Astaire. The entire film bursts with energy and colour, with clever casting choices from top to bottom, perhaps especially with Grace (a singer making her film debut) and Barrera (who co-star in the Starz series “Vida”). ) with.

As it happens, “In the Heights” closes out this year’s unusually well-populated lineup of film musicals, thanks to a logjam created by Covid, “Annette” (which would premiered at the Cannes Film Festival), “The Story of the West” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” are all yet to come.

Those movies remain unseen, but in terms of delivering on the promise of their content and setting a high bar, audiences will be served really well if any of them manage to measure up to these “heights.”

“In the Heights” premieres June 11 in theaters and on HBO Max. It has got PG-13 rating.

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