‘Feel The Beat’ review: harmless, feelgood fluff for fans of ‘Step Up’

Netflix adds another teen drama that you'll forget as soon as the credits roll

Disney Channel star Sofia Carson graduates to her first Netflix film, but she picks a splashy dance musical that feels even more of a fairytale than the Cinderella stories that made her famous. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – parents might struggle to sit through the sap, but pre-teens who are still growing up with Carson will likely find enough to enjoy.

Carson is April, a cold-hearted Broadway dancer who dresses in black, stares at her phone a lot, and does mean things like push old ladies into the rain so she can steal their taxis. Karma comes calling when she turns up to her next big audition and finds out the director is the same old lady she just pushed into a puddle. Blacklisted from Broadway and evicted from her apartment, she is sent back to her hometown in the sticks.

Sulking around her old neighbourhood, April bumps into an old dance teacher (Donna Lynne Champlin, from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) who tries to convince her to lead a kids class. Obviously she’s not interested – until she notices an upcoming competition that’s being judged by a big Broadway producer, and until she realises that she’ll get to dance on stage with the kids if they make it all the way to the finals.

Will April selfishly use the class to get another shot at her own fame, or will her hard heart soften enough to give them their own spotlight when the big moment comes? Will she fall back in love with small-town life and woo hunky high-school ex-boyfriend (Wolfgang Novogratz, from Sierra Burgess Is A Loser and The Half Of It)? Will she reconnect with her blue-collar dad (Enrico Colantoni from Veronica Mars) and realise that there’s more to life than New York? What do you think?

Feel The Beat
Sofia Carson plays a reluctant dance coach in ‘Feel The Beat’. Credit: Netflix

Feel The Beat might share a few plot points with School Of Rock, but its clearly aiming for a younger take on Pitch Perfect and Bring It On. Carson does a decent enough job playing a melting ice queen, but it’s a shame the film doesn’t let her have more fun being mean. There’s a nastier, funnier film hiding somewhere in the first act, but this isn’t the movie that director Elissa Down (The Honor List) is going for. The big city is bad, nostalgia is great, and it’s basically fine to give up on your dreams if you can help someone else realise theirs instead – especially if that someone else is a class full of sweet and clumsy kids who just want to dance for fun.

In fact, as soon as the kids show up, it’s more their film than Carson’s anyway. Down makes sure the dance troop features enough loveable misfits to keep the training montages as glittery as possible, and she even throws in a deaf girl so the film’s big emotional payoff can be shown in sign language.

It’s predicable, lightweight and sweet enough to make your teeth hurt, but it’s also a harmless enough fairytale for a rainy holiday afternoon when the kids are bored.

Details

  • Director: Elissa Down
  • Starring: Sofia Carson, Enrico Colantoni, Wolfgang Novogratz
  • Released: June 19 (Netflix)
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