Initially as I was watching I was disappointed with a few story changes from the stage musical (which is funny since I haven’t actually seen it, just listened to the Broadway cast soundtrack a TON which tells that entire story, along with watching some cell phone recorded footage on YouTube.) But those changes all paid off huge the way the film version ended, making it way more impactful than the stage show’s ending (which was already pretty impactful.)
4. "I definitely didn’t like most of the changes." In response to Reply # 3
A lot of them came at the expense of songs, adding scenes I didn’t feel were necessary. That said, the performances were all uniformly great (except for Beatriz, who was absurdly hammy compared to the cast, but she’s largely background, so that didn’t matter, lol)— it was fucking awesome having leads that can actually sing and dance, a goddamn miracle in today’s “auto tune big stars” world. And the first act of the musical is one of my favorite acts of the last 15ish years, so it was really great seeing that come to life on the screen.
5. "Re: the changes, I’d love to hear them talk about it a bit…" In response to Reply # 4
Most of the changes I didn’t like seemed to be connected to each other. The original musical is a true ensemble cast where there isn't really a clear lead - you have Usnavi, Vanessa, Benny, and Nina all pretty much on an equal level. Usnavi was the lead on paper, but from a story perspective the Benny and Nina relationship was more prominent than the Usnavi and Vanessa relationship.
In the movie they made Anthony Ramos as Usnavi the CLEAR lead with the whole narration aspect. That meant that Benny’s role got diminished, and the Benny/Nina relationship got simplified so they could beef up the Usnavi/Vanessa relationship. They HAD to cut songs - that original musical soundtrack is long as heck. Benny and Nina had three duets to themselves. So in simplifying that relationship, they took away the conflict of Benny being mad at her about her dad selling the shop (they even switched the argument during Blackout to become Usnavi and Vanessa’s argument). That was a shame because Corey Hawkins KILLED it as Benny.
The change in sequence with Abuela’s death really worked for me - her being with all her people and at peace (Olga was AMAZING) was just heartbreakingly beautiful. Usnavi finding the lotto ticket later was great. And the end of the movie adding Vanessa into the Graffiti Pete reveal? That was amazing.
The reveal that he was still in NYC and on the beach was pretty obvious, but I still liked it. There were some additional that didn’t make sense (why add a third salon lady when those lines could have just been done by Daniella and Carla?) While I was watching I was annoyed by some of the choices in what was cut out given that some things were added that weren’t needed, but after seeing the whole thing and realizing that the cuts were purposeful I definitely understand it.