'In the Heights' Called 'Exhilarating' in Glowing First Reviews: 'So Exuberant and Full of Life'

Lin-Manuel Miranda's highly anticipated musical In the Heights receives rave reviews ahead of its theatrical debut, with critics calling it "a blast" and must-see for moviegoers as theaters open up

in the heights
Photo: Macall Poley/Warner Bros.

After In the Heights' release was delayed by a year due to COVID-19, the movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2008 Tony-winning Broadway musical is finally gearing up to open, with critics praising the film in early reviews.

Directed by Crazy Rich Asians' Jon M. Chu and co-written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, In the Heights follows the residents of Manhattan's predominantly Latin neighborhood Washington Heights.

David Ehrlich from IndieWire writes, "So exuberant and full of life… In the Heights is the kind of electrifying theatrical experience that people have been waxing nostalgic about ever since the pandemic began — the kind that it almost seemed like we might never get to enjoy again"

ANTHONY RAMOS as Usnavi in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Calling the movie "a blast," Peter Debruge from Variety says, "Miranda's terrific songs speak for themselves, leaving Chu to orchestrate the carnaval del barrio that does justice to everyday people of color."

Likening Miranda's new movie to his monster hit 2015 musical Hamilton, Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt says In the Heights is "steeped in the joyful multiculturalism and dense syncopated wordplay that has become his [Miranda's] signature."

"This movie succeeds at the hardest task a movie musical needs to pull off," Slate's Dana Stevens writes, "the musical numbers, with few exceptions, soar in the way an in-story song has to soar to convince us that, given this situation and these characters, 'randomly bursting into song' is a perfectly sensible thing to do."

"The nervy electricity and joy of the film, arriving at this moment in time, is an unbeatable combo," writes Alissa Wilkinson from Vox, who says the film is "exhilarating" to watch on the big screen. "It's hard to imagine a movie-hungry audience returning to the theater and not being swept away."

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In the Heights, starring Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz, Dascha Polanco and Stephanie Beatriz, hits theaters on June 11 and will be available to stream on HBO Max for 30 days.

Before that, the film will open the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival on June 9. The opening will take place in Washington Heights, the Manhattan neighborhood where Miranda grew up and based the musical in.

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