2 Best Movies to Watch From Scott Sanders Productions

Staff & contributors

Even if you aren't familiar with the original, Tony Award-winning Broadway production from Lin-Manuel Miranda, this adaptation of In the Heights is still infused with the same infectious energy and loaded with many of the same eclectic songs. This is musical theater at its most fundamental (cheesy, us-against-the-world romance; unstoppable optimism) and also at some of its most unique—with old-school Broadway numbers mixing seamlessly with hip hop, Latin dance, and cheery 2000s pop. But beyond its music, In the Heights offers a gorgeous tapestry of stories about life in a proud immigrant community and the challenges of staying rooted to home while reaching for the stars.

Genre: Drama, Family, Music, Romance

Actor: Anthony Ramos, Ariana Greenblatt, Christopher Jackson, Corey Hawkins, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Dascha Polanco, Dean Scott Vazquez, Gregory Diaz IV, Javier Muñoz, Jimmy Smits, Leslie Grace, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony, Mateo Gómez, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Olivia Perez, Patrick Page, Ryan Woodle, Seth Stewart, Stephanie Beatriz, Susan Pourfar, The Kid Mero, Valentina

Director: Jon M. Chu

With the tried-and-tested music and lyrics of Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, this film adaptation of the Color Purple musical was practically guaranteed to have power in its key moments. And with a cast that includes tremendous vocalists like Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks (both of whom had previously played their respective characters on stage), the film's most important sections possess an energy and soul that allow its protagonist to dream of something beyond her dire personal circumstances. However, after a while, this movie begins to feel like it's only ever made up of isolated scenes without the proper build-up nor the right pacing to earn the movement from one episodic moment to the next. Even with the dynamite chemistry between cast and score, the film's odd staging and blocking constantly get in the way of what should be something incredibly emotional.

Genre: Drama, Music

Actor: Aba Arthur, Adetinpo Thomas, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Charles Green, Chase Steven Anderson, Ciara, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, Danielle Brooks, David Alan Grier, David Vaughn, Deon Cole, Elizabeth Marvel, Emana Rachelle, Fantasia Barrino, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Jamaal Avery Jr., Jeffrey Marcus, John L. Adams, Jon Batiste, L. Warren Young, Louis Gossett Jr., MaCai Arrington Griffin, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, Stephen Hill, Tamela Mann, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J. Smith, Tiffany Elle Burgess, Whoopi Goldberg

Director: Blitz Bazawule

Rating: PG-13