June 18, 2021
"In the Heights"(Rated T/ PG-13)
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Jimmy Smits
Where to watch: In theaters/ HBO Max
I was worried!
I have a love/hate relationship with musicals, especially many of those made in the last three decades.
The charm exuded by some (not all) musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Age is often largely lost on musicals in a modern setting. Plus, in general, characters breaking out into song out of nowhere, with everyone around them knowing that song, and dancing about in the middle of the day at work, or in prison, or on the way to a battle field in the middle of a war, is just so bizarre to me.
Yes, there’ve been some great exceptions in the past few years. Some of Disney’s animated musicals stand out, along with the most recent film versions of “Chicago”, “Moulin Rouge”, and even “Les Misérables”. But the list of the exceptionally cheesy, annoying and unwatchable musicals is long, and includes the theatrical disasters like “Rent” and the excruciatingly painful “The Phantom of the Opera”.
So, I was rightfully worried the film version of the highly successful stage musical, “In the Heights”, would suck to high heaven. The initial trailers and previews all but confirmed this to be another cheese festival; they are filled with hundreds of choreographed dancers in the street, and synchronized swimmers in pools! What?
And there are few things more ridiculous than those musicals in which the performers sing through every single line of dialogue, opera style. Indeed, “In the Heights” starts off doing just that, leaving me all set to count the minutes to the end of my nightmare.
Thankfully, that was just the prologue before the title sequence appears, and actual dialogue and movement not involving dancing does take place, allowing “In the Heights” to settle into a surprisingly great and enjoyable picture.
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