In The Heights Is Movie History In The Making! Review & Interview With Quiara Alegría Hudes!

Hey All!

I recently had the amazing opportunity to get an advanced screener of the groundbreaking movie In The Heights! I also got the chance to interview the phenomenal Quiara Alegría Hudes. More about that later! I first have to rave about this movie because I absolutely LOVED it. As someone who is Puerto Rican and Cuban and grew up in Washington Heights, I feel like this film is my life story come to the big screen. It truly encompasses the heart and passion of my fellow Latinx people. The film debuts in theaters and on HBO Max on June 11th and it is a MUST SEE! I can’t even begin to describe how full of life and heartfelt this film is! You will find yourself simultaneously shedding some tears and smiling from ear to ear as you watch it. I seriously can’t wait to watch it over and over again when it releases on HBO Max.

If you’re not familiar with the Broadway musical, It follows a variety of vibrant characters like Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos), a corner store bodega owner in Washington Heights who dreams of reopening his father’s bar in the Dominican Republic. He lives with the local matriarch Doña Claudia (Olga Merediz), whom they call Abuela because the whole neighborhood considers her like their collective grandmother. It also follows a heartfelt love story and an ensemble of friends (who are like family) struggling as their neighborhood is being steadily lost to gentrification. Usnavi runs his corner store with his cousin Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV), a teenager struggling through the USA immigration system and activist for Dreamers like himself.

Usnavi’s best friend Benny (Corey Hawkins), is a taxi dispatcher who is in love with Nina and longs to start his own business and make it big. Benny works for Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits), a widower who longs for his daughter Nina to have the life he never had. Nina (Leslie Grace), comes home for the summer after her first year away at Stanford and wants to drop out of college due to the racism she experienced away at school. She also rekindles her love with Benny. I was thrilled there was a character named Vanessa and she’s been Usnavi’s crush since they were kids.

Vanessa is played brilliantly by Melissa Barrera. She perfectly captures Vanessa, a hair stylist who wants to move downtown to follow her dream of being a fashion designer. The main neighborhood cast consists of bochincheras or as you would say in English gossipers Cuca, Carla and Daniela, who work at the local nail salon and are played brilliantly by Stephanie Beatriz, Dasha Polanco, and the legendary Daphne Rubin-Vega.

Lastly Lin-Manuel Miranda plays the amazing Piragua (Shaved Ice) man who is struggling to keep his business afloat and is in a fued with the Mister Softee truck, who is trying to put him out of business. His character is probably my favorite in the whole film!

The film personally transported me back to my childhood growing up in the New York projects and in Washington Heights. I spent most of my time with my grandmother (who everyone called Doña Mary) and her gossiping friends. My grandmother practically raised half the block because she worked as a baby sitter and people came from far and wide to honor her when she passed. Some of the scenes felt like my life story come to life on the big screen and Doña Claudia felt like my grandmother’s spirit was captured and brought to life on the big screen. I shed buckets of tears for Doña Claudia because it felt like morning my grandmother again.

To say this film had a strong impact on me emotionally would be an understatement! It made me remember where I came from and all the struggles I had to endure to make it to where I am today. It was an amazing reminder to me to remember to appreciate all that those who came before me and all they had to endure for me to be here today. The film was like a family reunion for me and makes me want to book a plane ticket back home to my block in NYC. It truly reminded me there is no place like that sense of home and family that you find in the community that you grow up in.

The visuals, the music, the choreography are all incredible. The film is stunning and is just the feel good hopeful summer movie we all need after such a brutal last year and start to the new year.  Director Jon M. Chu brings to life to those explosive musical numbers perfectly. Writer Quiara Alegria Hudes perfectly adapted the musical for the big screen and Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and reworked the music and lyrics to perfection. I truly thank god for Lin-Manuel Miranda for making this musical and for being a champion of not only Puerto Rican people every where, but for Latinx people everywhere! I am obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda!

I hope this film is hugely successful and I truly opens the door to more Latinx stories on the big screen. I firmly believe all who see it will love it and it will be a huge success!

Please check out my interview with the writer of the film Quiara Alegria Hudes below or on YouTube! We chat about what it was like working with Jon M Chu and Lin Manuel Miranda and the challenges of bringing the show to the big screen!

Again In The Heights debuts in theaters and on HBO Max on June 11th! Get your tickets now and or subscribe to HBO Max. Get tickets and see it over and over again! Stream it over and over again!

It’s not a movie you will want to see just once! It’s a movie that will give you all the feels and also having you dancing in your seat!

I promise you, YOU WILL LOVE it as much as I do! As Usnavi would say, C’Mon Let’s Go!