In the Heights is a true love letter not only to the neighborhood of Washington Heights but also to fans of writer Lin Manuel Miranda, and especially to people who also love his other magnum opus, Hamilton. Outside of recent comic book films, it's hard to remember another film that dropped so many tiny easter eggs into its runtime. And with its release both in theaters and on HBO Max, it's a great time to check these out for yourself as you watch this repeatedly.
Stay through the In the Heights credits, you monsters
I know this is also a trope of comic book movies, but In the Heights has an after-credits scene. You want to stick around for it. First, you get to listen to more of the music. Nuff said. Also, look at the credits and think about all of the people who worked so hard to make this movie. Think about how many people it took to pull off the "96,000" showstopper musical number in the pool. Think about the design and special effects needed for "Pacienca Y Fe" and everyone who worked on it. And you might just learn something cool about the movie, too.
Went to go see it, left the theater early, and missed out on it? No better time to check it out on HBO Max. No spoilers, but the post-credits scene involves a reprise of the song "Piragua," and the return of the Piragua Guy (Lin Manuel Miranda himself) and the Mr. Softee guy (Christopher Jackson).
Of course, that specific casting and pairing is an easter egg in itself…
The Piragua vs. Mr. Softee rivalry is a bromance in disguise
Hamilton fans know Chris Jackson famously played George Washington in the original Broadway cast (and the filmed version). And Lin Manuel/In the Heights fans know that Jackson also originated the Benny role (played in the film by Corey Hawkins) when it first came to Broadway. And, of course, Lin Manuel originated the role of Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos in the film). Of course, this was 15 years ago when those guys could play 20-somethings instead of 40-somethings.
So, in the film, they play these pivotal roles of the vendors of sweet and cool treats that keep everyone chilled on the hot hot streets of New York. While the film has them as rivals, Lin Manuel and Chris have quite a friendship between the two of them.
Fans may remember Lin Manuel's episode of Drunk History, during which he is memorably interrupted by Questlove as well as his best bud Chris. "As long as I have a job, you have a job," a very drunk Lin Manuel promises his friend.
And that has continued to be true. Chris Jackson showed up in Moana, which Miranda helped write. And, again, if you looked at the credits, you notice that Jackson was a major piece of the chorus for the show as well. It doesn't hurt that Jackson is a world-class talent who doesn't need his friend's help booking shows. But it's great to see the two of them continue their unique chemistry whenever we can.
During the scene when Mr. Rosario (Jimmy Smits) calls the Stanford Financial Aid office, he is put on hold. Listen closely, and you'll hear the hold music is a "muzak" version of the chorus of "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton. I burst out laughing in my theater, and no one else seemed to get the joke– an experience usually only reserved for new Marvel movies. Bravo to director John Chu and Lin Manuel Miranda for sneaking that one in there.
What's the tv show Abuela is watching?
Early in the film, Abuelita is watching tv, and we briefly pass it by. According to the credits, she's watching Paquita la del Barrio, a Mexican drama that aired on Univision based on the life of the singer of the same name. It tells a fictionalized version of her life from poverty to stardom and is very much on theme with the rest of In the Heights.
Of course, there are tons more easter eggs in this lush and gorgeously designed film. My personal favorite game is picking out references that are too modern that couldn't have been used when this premiered on Broadway in the mid-2000s. But, of course, that's a completely different story.
Can't get enough In the Heights and need a fix right now? Warner Bros has released the opening musical number on YouTube for you to watch. Put it in your earholes and enjoy!
In the Heights is in theaters now and available on HBO Max until July 11th.