Washington Heights is a close-knit, largely Hispanic neighbourhood in New York, home to many immigrant families who have left their countries hoping to find a better life in the United States.
This is the story of hardworking Mr Rosario (Jimmy Smits) and his academically gifted daughter Nina (Leslie Grace). Mr Rosario sacrifices everything so that Nina can have everything he never had. He also wants her to go out into the world and show people that the Latino community is just as talented and brilliant as any other. Nina briefly falters, feeling the weight of her community’s expectations on her shoulders. But she finds a way to represent her people and to help those who have fewer rights and opportunities than she has.
It’s also the story of Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), a young woman who works at the local beauty salon and dreams of designing clothes and living in a better neighbourhood.
Most of all this is the story of Usnavi, who dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic to reopen his father’s little bar. Usnavi is adopted by Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz), the childless matriarch of the neighbourhood, who teaches the younger generations to believe in themselves and the power of their dreams.
Despite the hardships and struggles faced by the young people of the Heights, Abuela Claudia helps them take pride in the small details of life and in their cultural differences, reminding them to show the world who they truly are.
Poverty; illegal immigration; racial discrimination; prejudice; loss of parents
There’s no violence in In the Heights.
In the Heights has some sexual references. For example:
- Beauticians talk about who is ‘doing’ who and why.
- Someone says, ‘It smells like sex and cheap perfume’.
- Someone tells Vanessa they can feel the sexual tension between her and Usnavi.
- It is loudly and publicly announced that Nina and her boyfriend went for ‘a roll in the hay’.
- Beauticians mention that someone is having sex with a person named Yolanda.
- People talk about buying condoms.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
In the Heights shows some use of substances. For example:
- People drink at a dinner party.
- People drink in a night club.
- Usnavi drinks at a bar and, despite Vanessa’s protests, orders shots for them both.
- Vanessa brings Usnavi a bottle of champagne.
- Someone is referred to as a drunk Cheetah Rivera.
- A father seems to be an alcoholic. There are empty beer cans littering his apartment. He holds a beer in one hand and claims it’s the first of the day.
Nudity and sexual activity
In the Heights has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Men sit on the sidewalk in the middle of a heatwave wearing only their shorts.
- Scantily dressed women dance provocatively in a nightclub.
- Vanessa dances with four men at once. One of them rubs his hands down her chest.
- One scene shows many women in bikinis in and around a pool.
The following products are displayed or used in In the Heights: Doritos chips, iPhones, Haribo gummi bears and Coca-Cola.
In the Heights has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
In the Heights is a musical drama with an excellent cast, musical score and choreography. The story is about the struggles inside everyone. It reminds us to never give up on our dreams, no matter the challenges we face.
Older audiences and musical fans will enjoy In the Heights.
The main messages from In the Heights are that communities are powerful, and that communities become visible by showing the world who they truly are.
Values in In the Heights that you could reinforce with your children include community, compassion, friendliness, helpfulness, self-sacrifice, persistence, patience and faith.
In the Heights could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like:
- giving up on your dreams
- letting others dictate the direction of your life
- belittling diverse cultures and nationalities
- making assumptions about or discriminating against people on the basis of racial or cultural stereotypes.