The list is staying the same length today though because I sadly won't be adding In the Heights onto it any time soon. Not that I ever truly thought this movie was going to be made for me -- the only things grabbing me beforehand were the notable sex appeal of Anthony Ramos and the fact that the film is a love letter to my real-life New York neighborhood of Washington Heights. Well, sort of -- although In the Heights was indeed filmed all around my stomping grounds (a pivotal outdoor stairs scene happens less than a sixty second walk from my apartment door!) the ethnic make-up of my precise chunk of the neighborhood is actually mainly Jewish, a group that technically has more of a history with the place than Dominicans can claim, and I don't think I spied a single Jewish person in In the Heights?
But it is in itself fantastic and heartening to see a too-long sidelined minority culture take center stage, and it's winningly showcased by director Jon M. Chu and all of his actors. I think Chu's greatest ability might be with casting, and here, as with Crazy Rich Asians, it feels like you're getting in on the ground floor of a bunch of future movie star careers. Everybody's got charisma to spare.
The story, similarly, is a mash of tropes I've long tired of -- The Girl Who Wants Out Of This Place! Saintly Old Woman! The Boy Who Wants Out Of This Place! Too many characters with one defined quirk, their predictable stories running along long in-place tracks; I find it difficult to feel inspired when a person's Big Destiny just turns out to be just the tail-end of another cliche playing itself out to its well-trod end for the ten thousandth time. Is this all there is?
I know many people find comfort in the familiar, and not-so-weirdly many of those people seem to be Musical fans. I'm really not trying to be condescending when I say that is nice for them! And I suppose a lot of people will find it enough, the Summer Spectacle, the Big Screen, and I wish them well with even a tinge of jealousy. I'm looking forward to losing myself in the Movie Experience as soon as I can. In the Heights just isn't the one for me.