LUBBOCK, TX (KJTV) - "In the Heights," focused on the largely Dominican Washington Heights neighborhood in New York, was Lin-Manuel Miranda's first Broadway hit musical before the game-changing "Hamilton." While some stage musicals don't translate well to film - ahem "CATS" - "In the Heights" is a beautiful and lively production on screen.
Director John M. Chu made "Crazy Rich Asians," but also a couple of the "Step Up" dance movies, which serve him well here. You just don't want to take your eyes off the screen.
"In the Heights" feels more than a little inspired by "Rent" following various characters chasing their dreams. The only real villain in this musical is American society at large, which has traditionally relegated People of Color to living in certain areas doing certain things and the only way out is winning the lotto or dying.
Miranda's lyrics are inventive, fast and rhythic and the film matches that with fast editing and creative visuals. It's exceptionally well made, even if the story borders on cliche and preachy and times. It's about 45 minutes too long for the thin plot, but at least this is a musical with SOME substance.
For fans of the genre, "In the Heights" is not one not to miss.
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