In the Heights (2021) Movie Review

In the Heights – For Dreamers Everywhere


Director: Jon M Chu

Writer: Quiara Alegria Hudes (Screenplay) Quiara Alegria Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Musical)

Starring: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits

Plot: A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.

Tagline – Turn Up the Volume on Your Dreams

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: In the Heights starts as we meet a bodega owner Usnavi (Ramos) who is a member of the Washington heights neighbourhood, where he knows everybody and dreams of a better life away back in the Dominican Republic. Nina Rosario (Grace) who is like a sister to Usnavi is also looking for a better life, one she has spent her whole life working towards, while Vanessa (Barrera) wants to follow her dream to move Downtown near the fashion district and Benny (Hawkins) who has been building his reputation in the area, where he is completely comfortable in.

The four find themselves at different crossroads in their lives, ones which will redefine their futures, be it together or alone, with music guiding them through their struggles, until the Blackout, which will change everything for them all.

Thoughts on In the Heights

Characters & Performances – Usnavi is telling the story of the summer in the heights to a group of children, he runs the bodega and dreams of returning home to the Dominican Republic, he is a confident man until Vanessa comes into his store, the woman of his dreams, the one person that could see him stay. Anthony Ramos is the first of many brilliant performances in this film. Vanessa works in beauty salon where she is dreams of her own life in a better neighbourhood, one where she could find herself walking into a fashion job, with her dreams looking dashed, she will find herself needing to regain her confidence after believing she might never leave the heights. Melissa Barrera gives us one of the star making performances in this film. Nina Rosario is like a little sister to Usnavi, her father has always worked to make sure she had a better future, something she has also worked hard on, only when it comes to her time to make the big decision on the next step, she finds herself stuck unsure of what to do next. Benny works for Nina’s father in dispatch, he is the most popular member of the team, he is the best friend to Usnavi and Nina’s love interest, while the pair do take the back burner to Usnavi and Vanessa, the pair do get the most unique and memorable dance routine. Leslie Grace and Corey Hawkins are both wonderful in the supporting roles too, with the whole cast being great to watch throughout the film.

StoryThe story here follows four people who have different dreams that are all from the same neighbourhood, Washington Heights, where everyone works together to build the community as they will all need to make difficult decisions on what is next in their lives. This is a story that is filled with magic, that takes real life situations to show us just how difficult life decisions can become when they will see a major change coming to the people involved. The story will continue to give us the will they won’t they with both stories and will show us just how the decisions being made could well change everything for them. The story might be slightly longer than it needs to be, but otherwise a truly enjoyable story.

ThemesIn the Heights is a musical that is filled with catchy musical numbers, rhythmic dance routines and a heart that shows life in one of the districts in New York City, Washington Heights, which is the key part of the settings that will help us understand what the film is all about.

Final Thoughts In the Heights is what dreams are all about, knowing what is important to chance through a life we only get one outing in.

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – L – Little Murder (2011)

Director: Predrag Antonijevic

Writer: Gerald Di Pego, Justin Di Pego (Screenplay) Gerald Di Pego, Janet Kapsin (Story)

Starring: Josh Lucas, Terrence Howard, Lake Bell, Deborah Ann Woll, Bokeem Woodbine, Noah Bean, Cary Elwes


Plot: In post-Katrina New Orleans, a disgraced detective encounters the ghost of a murdered woman who wants to help him identify her killer.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slow Crime Story


Story: Little Murder starts as we see what caused the disgraced detective Ben Chaney (Lucas) to be blacklisted by his department, this is shown by the fact the only work he can get it working for detective Lipp (Woodbine) spying on a potential suspect Drag ‘Donkey’ Hammerman (Howard).

Continuing to ruin his reputation Ben find himself talking to a ghost of a murderer victim Corey (Bell) who wants Ben to solve her murder. Failing to cover his own case Ben finds himself getting deeper into the Corey case as he tries to retrace her final chapters.


Thoughts on Little Murder


Characters/PerformanceBen Chaney is a disgraced detective that gets a surveillance case which turns into a chance for this alcoholic detective to redeem himself as he tries to help solve the murder case which is believed to be closed. Corey is the ghost that is visiting Ben, she has been murdered and wants to clear her brother’s name of the murder. Drag is the man Ben is meant to be watching but the two become respectful friends during the time together. The rest of the cast fills up the suspect list, the owner of the country club, the boyfriend, the best friend and the detective covering a milling spree through the city.

Performance wise, Josh Lucas is fine but does struggle to be the completely leading man for this film. Terrence Howard brings his style to the role which is mostly a smaller supporting one. Lake Bell does make for a good ghostly figure visiting, Cary Elwes also does well through this film.

StoryThis is a story about one cop needing to find his respect after being involved in a accidental shooting, it starts off by looking at a serial killer going around New Orleans which sounds interesting but soon it turns into a who dun it revolving around a ghost wanting to know who killed them. I am going to be honest, I was disappointed here, I thought we were getting a serial killer tracking film instead we get a story which could have been an episode of any cop show and not the best at that.

Crime/ThrillerThere is a crime to be solved while also having a serial killer on the loss but for some reason we are never following just one of these stories enough to care.

SettingsNew Orleans does make for a wonderful setting because it plays into the tones through the movie which bring us into the story when we are not getting bored of the lack of storytelling.

Final ThoughtsThis is a largely disappointing film that lacks the true story needed in this film, we get a mish mash going on throughout.


Overall: Disappointing crime thriller