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In the Heights reviews: What the critics say

Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera play Usnavi de la Vega and Vanessa in the film adaptation of In the Heights.

Warner Bros.

In the Heights is a celebration of love, life and community, critics say.

The film adaptation of Lynn-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Tony” currently has a 97% “Fresh”

; rating for Rotten Tomatoes of 130 reviews and arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on Thursday.

Directed by John M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), “In the Heights” explores the lives of residents of the Spanish community of Washington Heights in Manhattan. The story revolves around the owner of the Bodega Usnavi, who dreams of leaving New York and opening a bar in his homeland, the Dominican Republic.

Usnavi is in love with Vanessa, who works at a local beauty salon and dreams of moving downtown to become a fashion designer. Nina and Benny are the other central couple in the musical. Benny is the dispatcher of a taxi company owned by Nina’s father, but dreams of starting his own business.

Nina has just returned to the city after a year at Stanford University, but she doesn’t want her father to know that she dropped out because he is struggling to raise money to send her to a prestigious school. She is also the only one in her family who has gone to college.

These love stories involve other members of the community dealing with their own problems, including landlords and brokers who make rents in the area skyrocket. There is also a heat wave and lottery tickets worth $ 96,000.

Critics praised Chu’s directing and Quiara Alegria Hudes’ screenplay adaptation of the story, which helped Miranda perform on stage. Anthony Ramos has been praised for his groundbreaking performance as Usnavi and reviewers, admiring the film’s vibrant colors and brilliant dance numbers.

“To quote In the Heights itself, the streets are made of music in the first truly cheerful, splashing, extravagantly life-affirming film of the summer,” Anne Hornaday wrote in her review of The Washington Post.

Here’s what critics thought of “In the Heights” before his debut on Thursday.

AO Scott, The New York Times

AO Scott of The New York Times praised Chu’s directing of the film, especially the extravagant musical numbers. Chu is no stranger to integrating dance into his story. He has previously directed two films in the Step Up franchise. He was also wiretapped to deal with the upcoming adaptation of the musical “Wicked”.

Scott, like other reviewers, also highlights Ramos.

“Ramos’ charisma is perfectly suited for the role,” he wrote. “His modesty is as profitable and real as his bravado, and he is a strong theatrical singer as well as a fine film actor.”

Ramos portrays Cousin Sonny’s cousin in the stage musical and portrays John Lawrence and Philip Hamilton as part of the original cast of Miranda’s other musical, Hamilton.

“In the Heights, which opened on Broadway in 2008 and was due to hit theaters last year, now feels like a freshly grated pyragua on a hot July day and as permanent as the grass on the George Washington Bridge.” Scott wrote, “It’s part of the mass American entertainment in the best sense – a statement of impatience and faith, a celebration of common relationships and individual invention, a testament to the power of art to turn wrestling into dreams.”

Read the full review from The New York Times.

Corey Hawkins and Ariana Greenblatt portray Benny and Nina in the film adaptation of In the Heights.

Warner Bros.

Clarice Lofrey, independent

“Sometimes there will be a film that feels perfect right now – not because of any superficial connection to current events,” Clarice Lofrey wrote in her review of the film for the Independent. The themes that pulsate through “In the Heights” – culture, identity, community, gentrification and the rights of undocumented immigrants – are as important to the conversation now as they were when Lynn-Manuel Miranda first debuted on her stage musical in 2005. . “

“But the full-throated, dizzyingly inspired adaptation of John M. Chu arrives in theaters after a year’s delay, in a world that is still trying to crawl out from under the shadows of a devastating pandemic. In that sense, it’s a gift.”

Lowry said the film is aware of how connected the musical is to the tradition and the New York community of Washington Heights. Chu points his hat at Esther Williams’ aquamusic and West Side ballet history, while respecting the neighborhood’s cultural history. During the Carnival del Barrio, a tapestry of flags fluttered high above the crowds, including those from the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

“” In the heights “is a musical triumph, without fear of raising his voice to heaven,” she wrote.

Read the full review of the Independent.

Rafael Motamayor, observer

“Film adaptations of stage musicals follow a complex line, with both having to condense the story into a single play, while turning the stage production into a cinematic experience,” Rafael Motamayor wrote in his review of the film. Many get lost in the spectacular show and forget to actually adapt the lyrics, but this is not the case with In the Heights, which doubles the original commentary among all the captivating and breathtaking musical numbers to create the first truly must-see cinematic experience. summer. “

Motamayor noted that Chu and Hudes delve deeply into the themes of the dream play, but also contextualize some of the characters ‘motivations and struggles with what it means to be part of the Latinx community and the pressure to inherit their parents’ hopes and dreams. in a way that has not been explored in stage production.

He said that there are times when the film’s social commentary can come out as “really banal” and there are several plots that feel closed in the story without nuances, ultimately distracting from the main story.

Make no mistake, this is a musical turned into a blockbuster, as Chu refers to the wide shots of dozens of dancers in the background with the same eye, which you can see how Christopher Nolan refers to “Tenet” or the Rousseau brothers. refer to Endgame, “he writes.” There is a sense of melancholy beneath the optimistic lyrics and the relentless optimism of the characters that surfaces at several points in the film, an acknowledgment that things are fading, neighborhoods are changing and people are leaving, but we can well organize a huge party before that happens. . “In the Heights” is this party and we are just lucky to be invited. “

Read the full review of Observer.

Anthony Ramos starred in In the Heights.

Warner Bros.

Monica Castillo, The Wrapping

Mixed with Chu’s kinetic dance numbers is Paciencia y Fe, a ballad sung by Abuela Claudia, an elderly woman who lives in the neighborhood and treats everyone like a family.

The “fascinating” dance number contains contemporary ballet and tells the story of Claudia’s mother, who left Havana for New York.

Shot on the old trains and platforms of the New York Museum of Transit, the musical changes its tone during “Paciencia y Fe”, taking the audience back in time to reconsider the painful memories of her struggle for survival in America and peace at last. to feel at home again, “wrote Monica Castillo in her review of the film for The Wrap.

The “Paciencia y Fe” sequence has been praised by many critics for showing the tension many Spaniards experience when adapting to life in America, a place where anything is possible.

Castillo noted that “In the Heights” is a rarity in Hollywood. His Latino characters “live a normal life, outside of gang or drug abuse and outside of stereotypes.”

“How rarely do we see ourselves just to keep a job and nurture our ambitions; in most films, do we even have enough lines of dialogue to have ambitions?” she wrote.

The film shows the importance of inclusion and diversity not only in our neighborhoods, but also in the entertainment industry.

“With In the Heights, Chu delivered the Latin American equivalent of his previous Crazy Rich Asians box office and dumped it out of the park,” she wrote.

Read the full review from The Wrap.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Rotten Tomatoes.

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