In the Heights uses ambitious sequences, but runtime swells

In his first film since the hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” director John M. Choo teams up with Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda to bring his Broadway movie “In the Heights” to the big screen.

If you love your flashy, long, and chaotic musicals, In the Heights is sure to satisfy this missing box office item. A film about dreams, culture and family, Miranda and Cho fuse a Broadway cast and new faces to create an eclectic cinematic experience.

Anthony Ramos from “A Star is Born” and “Hamilton” takes the lead here. A little bit of John Leguizamo attracts singing and charisma. Repeating her Tony nominated performance, Olga Meredez nearly stole the movie with limited viewing time. Some actors perform better than others, but the biggest drawback of movies is the runtime, which extends beyond 90 minutes.

“The best days of my life,” Osnavi (Ramos) says every morning, looking at pictures of him and his father in the Dominican Republic. Osnavi dreams of returning to his Caribbean island and rebuilding his father’s bar, which has since been reduced to rubble.

This decision is not easy, he built a life in the heights, Grandma, Claudia (Merides) was like a mother to him and half a block away. The girl of his dreams falls in love with the family winery every day, while he treats Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) for free coffee, but does not confess his love for her. With his finances finally getting one step closer to his dream, it also means giving up another dream.

If you know what “singing talk” is, “In the Heights” starts with that. Most of the dialogue is sung, rather than spoken, just like the musical numbers. Some numbers occur in places as simple as you might expect: a living room or a cellar. Others, however, are more like sequences from ballerina movies. Like those that happen in a public swimming pool or in the middle of the street.

No scenery here will convert someone who doesn’t like musicals, this is not a game changer like Moulin Rouge or Chicago. The cast as a unit, hardly any of them stand out on their own, which is a good way of saying that there is no real award potential here.

While “In the Heights” looks forward to moments of greatness, it’s always a bit shy to get out of your seat in the theater, the theater is definitely the place to see this kind of scene.

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