Look, I’m not going to bury the lede – between 1:46 and 2:26 I broke out in goosebumps no fewer than six times. But the dreamy strings at the beginning meant I was primed for it from the very first frame:
I don’t know if any recent movie has been as consistently anticipated as In The Heights… except maybe Crazy Rich Asians, which isn’t coincidental. There’s beloved existing IP, there’s an incredible all-star team around it… and consequently there’s a lot of ‘oh, I hope I love it as much as the original' – basically, you pray for goosebumps.
From that first shot of the open hydrant, and the early morning sun, didn’t you know, without a doubt, that you wanted to be there? You did! You could feel how hot it was, how summer it was. You can picture yourself strolling down those streets, because there are so many different types of people, so obviously all a part of the neighbourhood, that you know you could fit in there. You already do. I love New York, so I’m primed to be enthusiastic about the setting – but this is what Jon M Chu can do. He brings the magic of it right there onscreen, even if you’ve never been there. You believe you could dream there, even before the awesome moment where they defy gravity, in a way that’s both reminiscent of, and much more exciting, than in LaLa Land. Goosebumps – and also, it makes total sense – wouldn’t you rather defy gravity in jeans and sneakers?
That’s probably what I love best about the trailer and what the movie promises. It’s utter fantasy – they don’t shy away from showing the big staged numbers that are obviously outside reality, and they’re not trying to coax anyone who might be skeptical about musicals to like it. You’re either in or you’re out.
But then, just as you’re mentally checking off ‘dancing in the streets’ and ‘choreographed pool scenes’ as indicators of the kind of throwback romp this is, they hit you with ‘They’re talking about kicking out all the Dreamers.” And suddenly you’re back to earth, in a place where ‘they’ say all kinds of things, and they have real-life reverberations outside of Twitter. Okay, it’s a bit heavy handed, coupled with the stuff about dreams off the top, but then they follow it up with:
“Little details that tell the world, ‘we are not invisible’”
Goosebumps. It’s not just a fantasy romp. In The Heights is definitively about real people living in our real world, dealing with the same things we’re reading about every day – they’re just more interesting when they do it.
Anthony Ramos plays Usnavi, and the trailer makes it obvious that this is his movie – I’m excited for him to get this attention after last year’s utterly thankless role as the (inexplicably non-singing) sidekick to Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born – but it must be said that in the few shots and lines he had, Corey Hawkins as Benny steals the whole trailer. I didn’t watch The Walking Dead or 24: Legacy so maybe I’m late to this, but I love him already.
If I had a quibble, I’d say I wish either Nina or Vanessa had had a substantial line – but assuming their stories are in line with the show, I know we’ll get there. I saw the split-second shot of Jimmy Smits the first time I watched, and it made me unreasonably happy, but it took until my second time through for me to spot Dascha Polanco. I love that there are more Easter Eggs (including Daphne Rubin-Vega!) to come.
I’m not usually the one who schedules movies months in advance – I leave it to Lainey, and I’m grateful when she drags me along. But this is obviously going to be an opening day viewing, and I’ll let her beg to be the one who gets to watch me react in real time.
I do have one logistical issue, though – this movie is all about the sweltering heat of summer in the city, which is a temperature and a scenario I absolutely love. But as we know, movie theatres crank the AC in hopes that people will stay there. We’re fresh out of drive-ins in this city, so how can I watch this movie and feel the summer heat I’m supposed to at the same time?
I can’t wait. Summer 2020. Goosebumps.