Lights up on Washington Heights.
Opening weekend for the big-screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's debut Broadway musical "In the Heights" is finally upon us after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its theatrical release for nearly a year.
According to critics, the "spirited," "cheerful," "life-affirming" and "socially undistanced" cinematic marvel is the perfect reason to return to theaters, which went dark across the country for several months because of the public health crisis.
"To call this movie assertive would be an understatement; to describe it as small would be a lie," writes Justin Chang for the Los Angeles Times.
"At nearly two-and-a-half hours and with a terrific ensemble of actors singing, rapping, dancing and practically bursting out of the frame, 'In the Heights' is a brash and invigorating entertainment, a movie of tender, delicate moments that nonetheless revels unabashedly in its own size and scale."
Directed by Jon M. Chu, "In the Heights" centers on charismatic bodega owner Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos) living in New York City's predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights.
While operating his bustling local business, Usnavi (originated on Broadway by Miranda) uplifts his vibrant community, finds love and dreams of escaping to his native Dominican Republic.
"As a collection of interwoven stories set to the pulsing rhythms of everyday barrio life, this 'In the Heights' can feel as dramatically thin and overstretched as its source material admittedly was," Chang continues in his review.
"But as a musical valentine to a close-knit Latino community, an inspired swirl of hip-hop, Latin pop, salsa and other musical idioms, its pleasures are often glorious, even transporting. It summons — and for the most part sustains — the kind of visual and musical energy that might help give the movies the resurgent jab-in-the-arm summer they've been waiting for."
Written for the screen by Quiara Alegria Hudes — who also penned the book for the stage production — the movie musical features a cast including Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera and Olga Merediz.