If it were safe to return to the Big Screen, this film version of the (pre-Hamilton) Broadway musical would be an ideal place to start. It centers on a young Puerto Rican bodega owner who scrimps and saves to realize his dream future while at the same time functioning as a vital part of the rich fabric of his vibrant, evolving and primarily Latino Washington Heights neighborhood (where, incidentally, it was shot).
Created by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), this life-affirming film offers irrepressible energy, a talented and attractive cast, a deft handling of the compelling social issues it addresses, and boisterous musical numbers so exquisitely choreographed that would make Bollywood envious. Hell, Busby Berkeley too.
The movie will mean different things to different viewers. Personally, and this from a reviewer whose politics are pro-immigrant, I was dazzled and entertained. I was charmed. Thing is, a day later, I wasn’t humming any of the songs, and the uneven narratives were fading fast. That said, still a must-see. (143 min)