The film adaptation for the Tony Award Winning, Broadway SMASH Hit by Lin Manuel Mirada, In the Heights, is finally here! So, grab your friends, get your popcorn, and dance your way to the theaters (if you’re comfortable of course) to see this fantastic, heartfelt, musical that will have you dancing in the aisles.

As someone who is a huge fan of the Broadway Musical, and lucky enough to see the original cast, I have been waiting for this film adaptation to hit the big screen ever since it was announced. In the Heights was incredibly innovative and groundbreaking for traditional broadway. It was the first musical to rap, use hip hop dancing, and launch the career of the now-infamous Lin Manuel Miranda who is also known for Moana, and the other Hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.

In The Heights

In the Heights

If you’ve seen Hamilton and are worried you won’t understand the rap lyrics of the main characters, never fear In the Heights isn’t a rap opera. Yes, there are a couple of rap numbers, but they’re mostly interwoven with fantastic musical numbers you’d see in a typical musical. So, please don’t let that deter you from enjoying this fantastic summer film, sure to get your toes tapping!

In the Heights tells the story of local residents (largely Dominican) who live in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights. At the helm of the story is Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner in love with the girl-next-door, Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who hopes, dreams, and raps about a better life. We also meet Nina (Leslie Grace), the smartest girl on the block, the first person in her family to go to college, who is returning from her first year at Stanford. Benny (Corey Hawkins), the handsome friend who works at Nina’s father’s (Jimmy Smits) chauffeur business – and not-so-secretly in love with the boss’s daughter. 

In The Heights

An explosion of life, friendship, family, and dreaming big!

This musical is an explosion of life, friendship, family, and dreaming big. Through innovative choreography reminiscent of old-timey MGM Musicals – seriously, they have synchronized swimming! – creative animations and fantastic voices, the In the Heights movie is one of the best musical adaptations I have ever seen! Seriously, the movie had me dancing in my seat, singing along, routing for everything, and getting choked up by the end. The message of the film is incredibly powerful and I cannot wait for everyone to see this incredible masterpiece. 

There Are Some Changes

That being said, Broadway purists might be upset since the film does make a few significant changes, but personally, I didn’t miss the cut songs or moments. However, I was confused why they chose to kill Nina’s mother vs having her in the film. It doesn’t add or take away from the storyline, but it doesn’t cut a couple of songs. However, there are a couple of other significant changes that didn’t bother me per se, but I’d love a sit down with Lin to ask why he made them. 

First, the timeline. Originally the story is told over 3 days. In the film, the story is told over the course of the summer. Next, how we learn Abuela wins the lottery. Lastly, adding the additional storyline of Benny and Nina dating before she heads to college and losing the slight racist tension between him and her father. Her father has issues with him not being Latinx and wanting to date his daughter. There’s even a song and scene of Nina teaching Benny Spanish. All of this was cut for the film. However, the film is full of nods to the original musical and you’ll even see a guest appearance by Christopher Jackson, who played the original Benny on Broadway, as well as, George Washington in Hamilton.

In the Heights hits theaters and HBOMax Thursday, June 10th – make sure to stay for the end credits scene, you wont be sorry!