IN THE HEIGHTS – A Review By Gadi Elkon

Lin-Manuel Miranda electric musical gets the A-class treatment from Director Jon M. Chu and a fully game cast.  Here is my full review of the magical musical movie, IN THE HEIGHTS.

The wonderment of seeing a musical on the big screen or eventually the small screen is impacted by the added elements.  Under the direction of Jon M. Chu an already vibrant impactful musical has been given the pomp and stance warranting the magic of film.  Miranda’s intimate and exciting story gets the full CGI upgrade to give the fantastical punch and kick.  For those that have loved the musical production (Broadway or the many tour shows) can still revel in powerful tale of love and community.

The film comes through with all the emotional connection the musical had but seems like all the updated and expanded elements Lin wanted to see on the stage.  His rise to superstar fame has elevated his amazing story, of becoming as bright as the lights that shine above, to a new horizon.  The film touches all the right moments of love and loss to light up the screen.  The story still revolves around Usnavi De La Vega’s bodega based journey to community inspiration.  Director of Photographer Alice Brooks, Editor Myron Kerstein and Production Designer Nelson Coates elevate the multi-cultural Washington Heights neighborhood into a fairy tale level world where dreams can be reached.  The local community pool is transformed into a full dance off of epic proportions that rivals any competition ever scene.  A simple balcony scene becomes a gravity defying dance that equals the love between Nina and Benny.  And even in the tragic moments we are witnessing epic level memory defining sequences.  Christopher Scott’s choreography is big and bold enough to maximize the bravado of the story.  Add in the comic touch of Lin himself as Piragua Guy to perfectly connect stage to screen.

A film that will surely uplift through all the struggles that impact so many people of all different races and cultures.  The big musical needed to light up our pandemic impacted world.  I especially loved Gregory Diaz IV’s sunny portrayal of Sonny.  His youthful touch really pushes Usnavi and his story arc is just as important.

Don’t walk to the theater but run, skip and soar to see this joyous film event.


Director:  Jon M. Chu

Writers:  Quiara Alegria Hudes (Screenplay and stage play book) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Based on musical stage play)

Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Stephanie Beatriz, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smits

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Selig Rating: 5 Stars

Runtime: 2 Hr. 23 Min.

Theatrical Release: In Theatres, Dolby Cinema and Imax on June 10, 2021


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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