Film musicals, like most genres, are hit or miss for the most part. But when you have a name like Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics, associated you can be as sure as you possibly can that the film is going to be a worthwhile watch. Besides Miranda you also get Jon M. Chu directing and a cast made up of Anthony Romos from the most recent edition of A Star is Born, Corey Hawkins from Straight Outta Compton and veteran actor Jimmy Smits (best known for NYPD Blue) along with Broadway actors/actresses like Gregory Diaz IV, Olga Merediz and Daphne Ruben-Diaz.
The film is based on the Broadway play and brings the streets of New York City in summer to the viewer. Set over the course of three days in Washington Heights where the largely Latin-American community there is close and many have big dreams. Those dreams are of a better life. One such dreamer is bodega owner Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos). He saves every penny he makes in the hopes of attaining that dream.
While the story centers on a particular community the emotions and hopes involved are highly relatable for most. Who in their life has not wondered about where they fit in within their community, group of friends, family, or even at work? We have all struggled with that question. It goes without saying that the Lin-Manuel penned music is totally addictive. You will be humming songs from the film for weeks! The music is Latin-Caribbean in origin and loads of fun. The dancing which happens during the musical numbers is also great.
Chu, who has previously helmed such films as Crazy Rich Asians, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Step Up, shows that he has the sensibilities to direct a highly watchable musical and the eye to take on the tale of such a vibrant community. The film is high energy so will keep your attention throughout its rather long 2 hours and 23 minute runtime. Certainly a film you can watch several times and not be bored with.