In the Heights - 2021

In the Heights - 2021
Movie Info

Rating: PG-13


Age-appropriateness: sexual references,


Overview: A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.


Themes: community, purpose, family, isolation, loneliness, failure, gossip, friendship, sacrifice, love, jealousy, death/grieving, identity, power

The Quick 3

Ask these quick questions to hit the major themes of the film.

1. Dreams. What are some of your dreams? What do you hope your future holds?

  • Usnavi often dreamed of his future. He dreamed about a better tomorrow. He wanted to return to the Dominican Republic and go to El Sueñito. Usnavi hoped for an improved future life. In New York, Usnavi feels like he works to survive, and he wants to live a life a deeper purpose.

  • Here's an article about How to Talk to Your Child About Their Purpose/Calling.


2. Community. How would you describe the community where you live? How close are you with the people you live by?

  • In the Heights, everyone seemed to know everybody else. The people that lived near one another were friends and often connected relationally when they saw one another in the neighborhood. God always intended for the church to be a community where Jesus followers could worship God and serve one another in meaningful relationships. We were never meant to live our lives in isolation. Romans 12:16 says, "Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!"


3. Love. How would you describe God's love? Why is it God that makes it possible for us to love one another?

  • Benny and Nina really love each other. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love each other because he loved us first." The entire reason that love is possible is because God first loved us. The Bible even says that "God is love".

After The Movie Discussion Guide

Follow this 5-10 minute discussion guide to drive an in-depth conversation.

1. Usnavi often dreamed of his future. He dreamed about a better tomorrow. He wanted to return to the Dominican Republic and go to El Sueñito. Usnavi hoped for an improved future life. In New York, Usnavi feels like he works to survive, and he wants to live a life a deeper purpose. What are some of your dreams? What do you hope your future holds?


2. In the Heights, everyone seemed to know everybody else. The people that lived near one another were friends and often connected relationally when they saw one another in the neighborhood. God always intended for the church to be a community where Jesus followers could worship God and serve one another in meaningful relationships. We were never meant to live our lives in isolation. Romans 12:16 says, "Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!" How would you describe the community where you live? How close are you with the people you live by?


3. Nina's father went to great lengths to take care of her. He sold some of his business in order to pay for her college at Stanford. He was committed to sacrificing his own desires in order for her to fulfill her dreams. This is similar to the attitude that Jesus has towards you. Jesus gave up His position in heaven so that He might save us from our sins. Philippians 2:5-8 says, "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b]; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross." What makes someone act so sacrificially for the benefit of someone else? Knowing the sacrifice Jesus made for you, what does that say about His love for you?


4. Usnavi said that the "best days of his life" happened when he was a boy in the Dominican Republic. He looks back at that time with fond memories. When would you say were the "best days of your life"? What are some of your favorite memories?


5. When Usnavi found the winning lottery ticket, he felt like all of his dreams were able to come true. What would it take for you to feel like your dreams came true? How would you feel if that dream never came to be?

Minute By Minute Guide

Use this break down of the entire movie in addition to the “After the Movie” discussion guide. Great for repeat viewings.

:05 "In the Heights". Usnavi explains his current life living in Washington Heights, New York. He has a job at a convenience store and he is engaged with his community. How would you describe your current life? How well connected are you to the community around you?


:15 "Benny's Dispatch". Benny and Nina connected while Benny was working as a traffic dispatcher. They both seemed to like each other and wanted to spend time together. Have you ever had a relationship like that? What do you think Benny and Nina are feeling?


:20 "Breathe". Nina was disappointed in her return from college. She felt like a failure because things didn't go her way. She reminds herself to "breathe" and she tries to remain optimistic. Have you ever felt like you failed and made a big mistake? How can you remind yourself to "breathe" and stay optimistic in that moment?


:32 "Tell Me Something I Don't Know". The people in the nail salon talk about rumors they've heard and they share stories about people in the neighborhood. They are gossiping about things. Gossip is talking about someone when they aren't around, and doing so in a way that doesn't help. Proverbs 20:19 says, "A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers." Have you ever been guilty of gossiping? Why is gossip so damaging?


:36 "It Won't Be Long Now." Vanessa is eager to move downtown and is waiting on a credit check. She's looking forward to her future and is hopeful for what is coming up in her life. What about your future are you most excited about? How are you working towards that future right now?


:44 "$96,000". Usnavi and his friends talk about what they would do if they won a bunch of money in the lottery. If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money? If you could give a bunch of money away to others, who would you give it to?


:51 "Piragua". The snow cone vendor talks about how he works really hard to live his life. He says he just "keeps scraping by". Do you ever feel like you are just scraping by in life? Like you are working hard to get a minimal reward?


:55 "When You're Home". Benny and Nina discussed how comfortable and safe their home feels. Isaiah 32:18 says, "My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest." Would you describe your home as a place where you feel safe and peaceful? What place do you feel like you most belong?


1:11 Nina tells the story about how she got searched at Stanford. Her roommate lost a necklace and people automatically assumed Nina stole it, just because of how she looked. Nina felt like she didn't have a community at Stanford because she was mistreated by others. Every person has value and worth and deserves to be loved because every person was made in the image of God. Why do you think some people are treated poorly, just because of the way they look? How can you stand up against such mistreatment when you see it?


1:15 "The Club". When they went to the club, Usnavi and Vanessa danced with other people. Benny asked if this might have made them jealous. Jealousy is wanting to have something that someone else has. When was the last time you felt jealous? How do you think Usnavi and Vanessa should respond to their jealousy?


1:17 "The Blackout". The people said they felt "powerless" when the blackout occurred. All of the lights went out and it was difficult to see. People were confused and didn't know what to do next. Have you ever felt powerless? What made you feel that way?


1:28 Usnavi's grandmother passed away. Usnavi had to grieve the loss of someone he loved. On a regular, happy day, he was suddenly faced with great sadness. Grieving this type of loss can be incredibly difficult. Usnavi's friends and family comforted him while he was processing the loss. God promises to be close to us in our grief. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." When was the last time you had to grieve a loss of something or someone that you loved? How did you process what you were feeling?


1:38 Usnavi tells the kids, "They say, 'if you work hard, and live by the rules, then the money will come and the things will come. And those things will complete you.' But they won't." You could have all of the money and achievements in the world and still be miserable. John 15:5 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." Having a relationship with Jesus and living for His glory is the only thing that will truly "complete" us. What do you feel is the thing that will ultimately make you happy? What does Jesus offer that nothing else can?


1:43 "Carnaval del Barrio". When the people didn't know what to do, one person asks, "what would Jesus do?". This is a great question to ask when we face a tough situation or decision. We can also read about Jesus' works and actions in the Bible to get an idea of what He actually did while He was on Earth. If you tried to act like Jesus, how might you change? In what ways does Jesus act differently from the way most people live today?


1:53 "When the Sun Goes Down". Benny and Nina really love each other. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love each other because he loved us first." The entire reason that love is possible is because God first loved us. The Bible even says that "God is love". How would you describe God's love? Why is it God that makes it possible for us to love one another?


1:58 "Champagne". Vanessa thanks Usnavi for the sweet things that he did for him. She expressed gratitude. Gratitude is thinking about and being thankful for all the things that make you smile. When was the last time you expressed gratitude to someone who has done great things for you? How can you show that person that you are really thankful?


2:12 Usnavi thought that his best days were in his past. He came to learn that it wasn't true. He actually had even better memories waiting for him in his future. Do you believe that the best days of your life are ahead of you? What do you think those days will look like?