In the Heights

In the Heights

2021, PG-13, 143 min. Directed by John M. Chu. Starring Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., June 11, 2021

What is a neighborhood? It's not the place, or the people. It's the place and the people, at a particular moment in time. That's the story of In the Heights, the cinematic adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's breakout pre-Hamilton musical about three days in the life of an Upper Manhattan working class community.

In the Heights doesn't structure the story of the changing face of New York as a battle. Gentrification is happening, but change, well, change is a thing that happens. As local businessman Kevin Rosario (Smits) notes, the Heights was an Irish neighborhood before it became a little corner of the Dominican Republic. Some businesses are being forced out, but others, like the corner bodega, are closing because the owners have other plans. Usnavi (Ramos) has his dream of moving back to the Dominican Republic, to reopen his father's old beachfront bar: The bodega, he tells the beach kids, was only meant to be a brief stop gap, but he was there for a decade. Yes, he tells the story of his old block in New York's Hispanic Washington Heights as a flashback: It's about his best friend, Benny (Hawkins), who works at the neighborhood cab company; and Nina (Grace), the girl from the block who got into Stanford carrying all the hopes and dreams of the community with her, and is buckling under the weight; and Vanessa (Barrera), working at the nail salon but desperate to move Downtown, past 14th Street, where her dreams of breaking into fashion are hanging by a thread.

There's no villain hanging over In the Heights, no one to really blame for anything. Instead, this is like a Shakespearian problem play in vibrant song-and-dance form, as the clock ticks down to a blackout. After all, what's NYC in the summer without someone sweating on a stoop? But the real countdown is in Usnavi's planned departure, and Nina returning to school, and Vanessa getting that apartment. If they get their dreams, then they leave the Heights. If they stay, their dreams die. How to square those circles?

Director John M. Chu goes past his Crazy Rich Asians success to his breakthrough helming the second and third entries in the always-fun Step Up series. Yet while this is his chance to bring street dance in a rainbow of forms to the big screen (no limb goes limp here, even in mass crowd scenes), he also delves into the Hollywood classics. Clear bows to Busby Berkeley abound, especially in a pool routine for "96,000" that is an obvious homage to the human fountain in Footlight Parade; but Chu and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler find a fresh twist on Nicholas Castle's rotating room trick from Royal Wedding – no mean feat in itself, but it's moments like that which justify going for a full cinematic production, as opposed to the filmed stage version of Hamilton. Chu leans heavily into the inherent fantasy of the musical with massive dance routines, huge carnivals that spontaneously erupt, and fantastical elements that, again, speak to the golden era of Technicolor musicals. And, oh, is In the Heights vibrant and awash with color and movement.

If In the Heights ever stumbles, it's in that old mantra about too much of a good thing. Miranda and stage play book writer Quiara Alegría Hudes aren't precious about their original text, restructuring key events to change motivations, reordering songs, and chamfering off some of the harsher plot points, all making for a fresh but familiar experience for fans. But two-and-a-half hours in the cinema is a different experience to three hours with an intermission in the theatre, and In the Heights can leave you breathless, especially after the boisterous, nonstop opening act before the blackout, where the energy never drops. That restructuring and reordering pushes several of the emotionally heaviest moments and most loaded songs into the third act, a tempo change that's a little jarring after so much excitement before.

But "it's too good" is scarcely a complaint. In the Heights is unashamedly romantic, fearlessly thrilling, endlessly optimistic and given life and voice through sheer love of people, of place – of community.

Showtimes

Thu., June 17

5:45, 6:00, 6:45, 8:40, 9:40

Sat., June 19

11:00am

Thu., June 17

5:35

Sat., June 19

11:00am

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Sat., June 19

11:00am

Sat., June 19

11:00am

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Tue., June 15

CC 7:00
CC/DVS 7:00

Wed., June 16

CC 7:00
CC/DVS 7:00

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Tue., June 15

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:20, 6:30

Wed., June 16

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:20, 6:30

Thu., June 17

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:20, 6:30

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Tue., June 15

CC/DVS 1:00, 4:15, 7:30
CC/DVS, IMAX 2:00

Wed., June 16

CC/DVS 1:00, 4:15, 7:30

Thu., June 17

CC/DVS 6:30

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Tue., June 15

1:40, 5:10, 8:40
digital 1:40, 5:10, 8:40
XD 12:30

Wed., June 16

1:40, 5:10, 8:40
digital 1:40, 5:10, 8:40

Thu., June 17

1:40, 5:10, 8:40
digital 1:40, 5:10, 8:40

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Tue., June 15

digital 12:30, 1:15, 3:50, 4:40, 7:10, 8:10

Wed., June 16

digital 1:15, 4:40, 8:10

Thu., June 17

digital 1:15, 4:40, 8:10

Tue., June 15

digital 2:45, 4:30, 6:15, 8:00, 9:40

Wed., June 16

digital 2:45, 6:15, 9:40

Thu., June 17

digital 4:10, 7:40

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Tue., June 15

digital 2:00, 2:40, 5:30, 6:15, 9:00

Wed., June 16

digital 2:40, 6:15, 9:50

Thu., June 17

digital 3:40, 7:15

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Tue., June 15

digital 11:00am, 12:40, 2:25, 4:05, 5:50, 7:35, 9:15

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Tue., June 15

digital 7:20

Wed., June 16

digital 4:30, 7:50

Thu., June 17

digital 7:20

Wed., June 16

3:10, 6:10

Thu., June 17

3:10, 6:10

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Tue., June 15

1:00, 4:05, 7:15

Wed., June 16

1:00, 4:05, 7:15

Thu., June 17

1:00, 4:05, 7:15

Evo Cinemas Belterra

166 Hargraves Ste. A-100, 512/457-0700, www.evocinemas.com/drippingsprings

Tue., June 15

11:00am, 2:30, 6:00
EVX 12:15, 3:45

Wed., June 16

12:30, 4:00, 7:30

Thu., June 17

12:30, 4:00, 7:30

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Tue., June 15

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00

Wed., June 16

1:15, 4:30

Thu., June 17

1:15, 4:30, 7:45

Film Alley Bastrop

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, bastrop.filmalley.net/

Tue., June 15

11:30am, 3:10, 3:50
11:30am, 3:10, 3:50

Wed., June 16

12:20, 12:20, 3:50, 3:50, 7:15, 7:15
12:20, 12:20, 3:50, 3:50, 7:15, 7:15

Thu., June 17

12:20, 12:20, 3:50, 3:50, 7:15, 7:15
12:20, 12:20, 3:50, 3:50, 7:15, 7:15

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Tue., June 15

CC 1:00, 4:00, 7:25

Wed., June 16

CC 1:00, 4:00, 7:25

Thu., June 17

CC 7:25

Fri., June 18

CC 12:00, 1:00, 3:20, 6:45, 10:00

Sat., June 19

CC 12:00, 1:00, 3:20, 6:45, 10:00

Sun., June 20

CC 12:00, 3:20, 6:45, 10:00

Mon., June 21

CC 12:00, 3:20, 6:45

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Tue., June 15

CC/DVS 1:30, 2:00, 5:00, 5:30, 8:20, 9:00
CC/DVS, IMAX 1:00, 8:00

Wed., June 16

CC/DVS 1:30, 3:45, 5:00, 8:20, 9:40
CC/DVS, IMAX 1:05, 4:35, 8:05

Thu., June 17

CC/DVS 1:30, 3:45, 5:00, 8:20, 9:40
CC/DVS, IMAX 1:00, 4:30, 8:00

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Tue., June 15

12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 10:00

Wed., June 16

12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 10:00

Thu., June 17

12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 10:00

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Wed., June 16

3:30, 4:30, 7:00, 8:00

Thu., June 17

4:00, 7:30

Fri., June 18

3:45, 7:15

Sat., June 19

12:15, 3:45, 7:15

Sun., June 20

12:15, 3:45, 7:15

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Tue., June 15

CC/DVS 6:10, 7:00

Wed., June 16

CC/DVS 6:10, 7:00

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 FM 620 N., Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Tue., June 15

12:00, 1:30, 2:45, 3:45, 4:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30

Wed., June 16

12:00, 1:30, 2:45, 4:30, 6:30, 8:30

Thu., June 17

12:00, 1:30, 2:45, 4:30, 6:30, 8:30

Fri., June 18

11:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 4:30, 7:30, 8:30

Sat., June 19

11:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 4:30, 7:30, 8:30

Sun., June 20

11:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 4:30, 7:30, 8:30

Mon., June 21

1:00, 3:45, 4:30, 7:30, 8:30

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Pkwy., Bldg. 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Tue., June 15

12:00, 12:30, 2:45, 3:45, 4:15, 6:30, 7:30, 8:00

Wed., June 16

12:00, 2:45, 3:45, 6:30, 7:30

Thu., June 17

12:00, 2:45, 3:45, 6:30, 7:30

Fri., June 18

12:45, 2:45, 4:30, 6:30, 8:00

Sat., June 19

12:45, 2:45, 4:30, 6:30, 8:00

Sun., June 20

12:45, 2:45, 4:30, 6:30, 8:00

Mon., June 21

12:45, 2:30, 4:30, 6:30, 8:00

Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500, 512/291-3158, www.southwesttheaters.com

$6.50 children and senior tickets (all-day), $5 Tuesdays (all tickets), Bargain Matinees before 5pm daily.

Tue., June 15

1:20, 2:20, 3:50, 5:40, 7:00

Wed., June 16

1:20, 2:20, 3:50, 5:40, 7:00

Thu., June 17

1:20, 2:20, 3:50, 5:40, 7:00

Tue., June 15

12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Wed., June 16

12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Thu., June 17

12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second, 512/495-9600, www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

Tue., June 15

2:30, 6:00, 9:30

Wed., June 16

2:30, 6:00, 9:30

Thu., June 17

2:30, 6:00, 9:30

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

In the Heights, John M. Chu, Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Lin-Manuel Miranda

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