A Piece of Magic: IN THE HEIGHTS (2021) Review

in the heights review
(Left Center-Right Center) ANTHONY RAMOS as Usnavi and MELISSA BARRERA as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

In The Heights is one of those films that make you feel that the magic real of cinema is still alive. From the very first shots, we are treated to the vibrant, colorful, and creative energy that bombard the senses for the following two and a half hours. The film is a celebration of culture, community, and life itself, finding beauty and color in the everyday routines and realities. We follow everyday people in this immigrant neighborhood of Washington Heights and have a glimpse into the sueñito (little dream) that each of our main characters holds deeply entrenched in their hearts as they work to make it a reality.


This movie has highs you can feel through each of its residents. A significant film about Latin American culture that needed to be told. Like other minority-heavy films, In The Heights is all about dreams, and this movie will definitely relate to the dreamer in all of us. Among those dreamers were Usnavi’s dreams of going back to the Dominican Republic. Through him, we meet the rest of the block; Kevin, Carla, Vanessa, Abuela Claudia, Benny, and so many others with dreams of leaving for a better life. Surprisingly, they all have valid reasons, but heart-felt changes were made once their decisions had been evaluated. No character arc is left incomplete which was the biggest weapon of this film. Throughout the film, you experience the whole gambit of emotions watching the citizens of The Heights live their day-to-day lives. You understand and feel them being left out by the greater societies but this film achieves that without demonizing the whites or being preachy. That is the toughest thing to achieve in such movies and this film completes that with ease.


All of the songs were played out even better than your imagination. There was a good use of editing and motion to really turn this into a movie adaptation and not just scene-by-scene of the stage performance. The singing was amazing, but what was more impressive was the acting attached to it. It wasn’t corny or overdone but felt very real. The visuals, choreography, and everything attached to this film was so perfect. The cinematography is wonderful and the musical numbers will have you moving in your seat and wanting to join in the exuberant and celebratory dancing of the characters. The music fuses traditional musical theatre numbers with Latin flair and a touch of rap and hip-hop. The massive and epically choreographed centerpiece number 96,000 was a personal favorite of mine.

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The performances are uniformly excellent and the themes, spirit, script, and direction of the film are intoxicating. Such a great combination of the celebration of culture. music, family, neighborhood, friendship, and acceptance are very rare. The dance sequences are wonderful and inventive and the leads carry their roles with such earnest sincerity it’s hard not to buy in to what is, in essence, a fairly simple-minded plot. You will be caught up in it all and will laugh and cry along with the cast. You know it’s a winner when you’re still sitting there as the credits roll. One of the all-time greats!

K- Score: 100%

STW: 30/30, D: 25/25, C: 8/8, E: 5/5, PVD: 12/12, A: 10/10, S: 10/10