Well, yes, Hamilton, of course, but acclaimed musical theatre powerhouse Lin-Manuel Miranda did not vault onto the 18th-century stage unheralded. Before Hamilton, there was In the Heights, which he co-wrote with Pulitzer finalist Quiara Alegría Hudes. Hudes takes solo credit for the film adaptation screenplay, Miranda presumably busy being the hottest thing since sliced bread right now, but he does crop up here for a brief singing cameo as the local piragüero (a shaved ice vendor).
And while Hamilton continues to pack ‘em in on the stage, with the Australian production currently wowing Sydney audiences, its elder brother is no slouch, either. In the Heights blitzed the Tony Awards in 2008, with four wins out of 13 nominations, and has been slated for a film adaptation for ages. It now comes to us under the direction of Jon M. Chu, who is currently riding high off the mammoth success of Crazy Rich Asians (2018) but knows a thing or two about musical cinema thanks to his work on the Step Up flicks (but let’s forget about 2015’s ill-fated Jem and the Holograms, okay?).
So that’s quite a pedigree, and even if you’re not a fan of musicals, you’d expect some decent fun to arise out of that creative alchemy. What you might not expect is one of the best films of the year, but hey — that’s what we get. In the Heights absolutely slaps.