“In the Heights” (Warner Bros.)
By Catholic News Service
Vibrant musical, set in northern Manhattan’s Washington Heights, charts the efforts of a youthful bodega owner (Anthony Ramos) to return to his native Dominican Republic, the scene of his idealized childhood, and reopen the beachside bar his father once ran there. But this “little dream” has complicated implications for his warmhearted adoptive grandmother (Olga Merediz), the younger cousin (Gregory Diaz IV) he mentors and the aspiring fashion designer (Melissa Barrera) for whom he’s fallen.
Director Jon M. Chu’s sweeping adaptation of composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning 2008 Broadway hit, scripted by the writer of the stage show’s book, Quiara Alegría Hudes, also follows the parallel romance linking the protagonist’s best friend (Corey Hawkins) with a gifted college student (Leslie Grace) and introduces a variety of neighborhood characters. As it touches on themes of racial dignity and the plight of immigrants who lack legal papers, the generally upbeat and uplifting film maintains a solid moral core. But a few rough spots around the edges make it safest for grown-ups. Possibly acceptable for older teens.
Brief sexual references, including to homosexual activity and contraception, a couple of profanities, about a dozen milder oaths, several crude and a few crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.