"A Romantic Summer in the Big Apple"
What You Need To Know:
IN THE HEIGHTS is engaging and entertaining, with fun musical numbers and great, eye-popping visuals. The movie has a strong Romantic worldview where characters chase after their personal dreams. This is mitigated, however, by some Christian, moral and pro-capitlaist values such as family, helping other people realize their potential, hard work, and positive references to Jesus, faith and patience. That said, IN THE HEIGHTS contains more than 30 obscenities and profanities, some politically correct content, some sexual references, and a metaphorical comment about hearing the voices of the gods. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for IN THE HEIGHTS.
The movie begins with a young man named Usnavi who sits on a beach in the Dominican Republic as he tells a group of children his story living in the NYC community called Washington Heights. Usnavi says that the Heights is full of culture and heat, especially in the summer when a major electric blackout forced residents to stay outside and hope that the AC would work.
Filmmakers take the audience back to that one summer. At the time, Usnavi dreams of returning to his place of birth, in the D.R., to live out his dream of fixing up a place and serving people who come to the beach for some rest and relaxation. However, in Usnavi’s reality, he and his cousin, Sonny, manage a connivence store in the Heights. Usnavi has an eye for a young woman, Vanessa, with a dream too of becoming a bigtime fashion designer in the heart of Manhattan. Vanessa is well on her way to achieving her dream, if only she can pass a credit check to land an apartment downtown.
Meanwhile, Nina, a freshman at Stanford University returns to the Heights for the summer only to be met with various praise from her doting father and extended family for putting her nose in the books and making a name for herself. The only problem is, Nina doesn’t think her father can continue to afford the tuition. So, she’s resolved that she won’t return to Stanford, even though that will crush the dreams of those around her and namely her father, who doesn’t have a high school diploma but values hard work and higher ed. To make matters more complex, Benny, Nina’s ex-boyfriend still has an affection towards her but also works for her father.
All these characters ponder their dreams, that they call “sueñitos,” as the electric blackout comes to a head. Just like the electricity, it seems that the various characters’ dreams have also gone dark for one reason or another. Thankfully, the Heights community bands together for the greater good of all who live there, especially due to the help of the community’s Matriarch Abuela Claudia and a local hairdresser, Daniella.
Will the characters see the light of their dreams or continue to let darkness overshadow their dreams this summer?
IN THE HEIGHTS is engaging and entertaining, with fun musical numbers. It has a beautiful composition and great production values. The colors are vibrant, and the picture is clear. Filmmakers make use of breaking the fourth wall to keep characters engaged with the audience. They also make use of animation in a few scenes and do a great job at stating the time and place of the on-screen events. All the actors possess stellar singing voices which will draw in viewers. The only downside to this musical drama is its long runtime which, when coupled with the heavy dialogue, means that viewers must really be dialed in to everything to not miss a beat (pun intended). For HAMILTON and Lin-Manuel Miranda fans, IN THE HEIGHTS will live up to its hype.
IN THE HEIGHTS has a strong Romantic worldview where characters chase after their dreams. However, the characters have some moral motivations driven by family, loyalty to one’s community and helping others realize their potential. Positively too, there are strong Christian elements including affirmation that there’s a God, a character who asks, “what would Jesus do,” and themes of having patience and faith. The musical, though, also has some strong PC content when it comes to racial profiling and not allowing illegal immigrants to go to college or have the same rights as U.S. citizens. However, it’s clear that the movie is pro-capitalist as characters work hard for their means and know the value of education. There’s one humanist comment at a political rally that asserts that humans have the power to change things and one male character who appears in makeup at a hair salon. For some worldview concerns, foul language, alcohol use, and miscellaneous immorality, MOVEIGUIDE® advises extreme caution for teenagers and adult viewers.