Distributed By: Netflix
Netflix Release Date: June 19th 2020 [Feel The Beat] / August 7th 2020 [Work It]
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Feel The Beat– Starring Sofia Carson, Wolfgang Novogratz, Donna Lynne Champlin, Enrico Colantoni, Rex Lee, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Eva Hauge
Work It– Starring Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, Keiynan Lonsdale, Michelle Buteau, Jordan Fisher, Naomi Snieckus
It’s a sad reality that in 2020, we’ve all been hit by one of the worst viruses imaginable, with COVID-19 sparing no favourites, and hitting us all where it hurts us the most. Since March for many of us around the world- but essentially since December 2019 for some countries like China; we’ve all been shocked, taken aback and forced into the situation of a global pandemic- that I don’t think any of us would ever fathom actually living through. Sure the Spanish flu was horrible back in the day- but you know how we all think about an event in history and think to ourselves ‘gee, that’s bad, but I’m glad we won’t ever have to live through that!’? Well, news flash everyone; because it’s that mentality that has made a number of us unprepared for what 2020 has dished out. Some of us have endured a mandatory lockdown period, while others with symptoms of COVID-19 have had to quarantine for the safety of family, friends and loved ones. Whole sectors of the economy have been placed on pause- with no hope or guarantee of recovery in the immediate future, while the government has had to step in many times to ensure that employees and employers are still paid in some industries- Australia has had Job Keeper and Job Seeker… and I don’t know about any other country.
Since March we’ve all been feeling the effects of a farrowing virus, and we’ve been on the left foot often- caught unawares and sometimes by surprise. But you know how there’s a saying around that there’s always a silver lining to any situation? Well that’s exactly the same as COVID-19. As we’ve been ‘forced’ to isolate and interact with people for a lengthy period of time whom we’ve never interacted on that level before; relationships are recultivated. We’ve also discovered or rediscovered a hidden talent or passion that was only highlighted to us during quarantine- or maybe we’ve taken this time to learn to cook more or to clean up the house, or to finally binge watch that TV show… We’ve also talked on Zoom to our friends and family; while music of all genres has been one of the things that has carried us through this turbulent time. Somehow and someway, we’ve all kept ourselves busy, or at least tried to anyway… And for some industries over others, they’ve had the durability and tenacity to bounce back if you will- or not feel the effects of COVID-19 so much. The same cannot be said about the movie and entertainment industry- which is teetering on the brink of… collapse?
I don’t know, collapse is such a negative way to say it- but after Christopher Nolan’s supposed and projected blockbuster TENET failed to garner sales and profit to the extent that the studio envisioned way back in July; movies this second half of the year have been releasing direct to streaming services. Straight to Netflix, to Disney+, to Apple TV+, to Hulu, to HBO Max… and I don’t blame the people who eventually make these executive decisions. Because with still an enormous number of cases per day in the U.S. (and that’s just the U.S., think about other countries still struggling!), and the number of deaths as well; well let me put it that cinemas won’t ever be the same. Ever. Which is somewhat of a shame as the atmosphere of going to a cinema and making a day outing out of it- will be gone. For that sentimentality and nostalgia I will mourn the day that the cinema ‘dies off’ or becomes dormant- and I reckon it’ll only come back if and when a working vaccine is available for the general public for COVID-19. Yet with sadness and disappointment comes an opportunity to see the brighter side. With more and more movies (of which most were filmed before the pandemic, but others filmed since the pandemic under strict official COVID-19 guidelines) being unveiled through streaming services- there still isn’t a shortage of movies to see and TV shows to binge. Why would I want to binge a show or watch a movie, you ask? Well just because there’s still a virus doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be inspired and motivated to be the best version of ourselves that we can be… and that’s exactly what movies and TV shows do. They are escapism to the max, but I firmly believe that in these days, films and shows are much more needed now that ever before. Touching deep on everyday and relatable issues that maybe aren’t talked about in everyday life; movies and TV shows have the unique opportunity to transcend cultural, religious and socioeconomic boundaries, and other different morals and values, as we all come together to be inspired and blessed, maybe even challenged for about 2 hours, or 40 minutes every week. Sometimes a show literally saves us from destruction- and while some of you may laugh, I’m sure others are nodding their head and agreeing with every word I’m saying.
[a while ago], I’ve rediscovered the power of the movie. Yep, the very same popular past time that involves us all sitting down in the lounge room and investing our time into the 90 minute or 2-hour phenomenon with a beginning, middle and an end, with the potential for sequels if the box office warrants it and critics applaud the movie. Of late I’ve been actively investing my time and energy, particular since university ended a while back in the media format of the TV show. The Arrowverse has mainly held my interest, with shows like The Good Doctor, The Blacklist, Once Upon A Time, Switched At Birth, Person Of Interest, iZombie, Continuum, and The Fosters all resonating with me throughout the years. It’s the characters who have ample time to develop, which is the main drawcard that immerses myself in a really good TV series. But with COVID-19 halting TV production for the foreseeable future, I shifted my attention back to my movie DVD collection at home, and remembered why I loved movies (and still do!) for such a long time. Movie series like Back to The Future, Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Toy Story, Jumanji, Indiana Jones Batman (Christopher Nolan directed series), Pitch Perfect and The Mighty Ducks have all captured my heart and tugged at my emotions, while standalone films like Julie and Julia, Finding Forrester, Operation Dumbo Drop, Angels In The Outfield, Now You See Me, The Star, Hook, Red, Game Night, Death At A Funeral, The Greatest Showman, Million Dollar Arm, and Trouble With The Curve have all been some of my favourite movies of all time ever! It’s because I truly believe that God can use anything (and I do mean anything!) to draw us closer to Him; thus it was throughout the past couple of months or so that my love for movies (despite all of its flaws and somewhat skewed worldly values that are present on a number of films), and all of the subtle nuances and hidden meanings that could be interpreted to be about God; excelled and exponentially grew.
Take Netflix for example, as a streaming service that is many ways is literally saving kids and families and helping them find their own path through life. It’s a gigantic beast in terms of movies and TV- and sometimes it can be overwhelming to sort through and sift through the high quality and inspiring and challenging material from the mediocre ‘watch once’ films and shows. If you google ‘list of Netflix movies’ or ‘list of Netflix shows’, and read the extensive list on Wikipedia… sure you’re bound to be confused and unsure of where to start. Same goes for the other streaming services but to a lesser extent. And as we are stuck in quarantine with limited things to inspire us and to grab our attention, to learn from in order to become better people (aside from our parents, but let’s face it- we often respond better to movies and TV shows telling us something, and showing us how to live, rather than our parents saying exactly the same thing, simply because it’s our parents, so we can dismiss their wisdom and knowledge!); can I boldly say that we can look to movies and films to help shape and guide us on our path to becoming men and women with meaning and purpose- and that in these days, it’s not that hard to find something that will capture our attention? The last movie I’ve reviewed was Eurovision with Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, and while that film was very heart-warming, and taught us all about the power of determination and chasing after your dreams, and the fact that true happiness didn’t reside in winning at all costs, but in the joy and knowledge of doing your absolute best; another film has captured my attention since then. Well actually two films- but I’m combining these reviews because of the similarities between the movies. While yes, these films debuted on Netflix a while ago- I reckon we shouldn’t judge quality based on assumptions and preconceptions- so how about we quickly dive in (even though I’m not a professional movie reviewer!) and briefly analyse Feel The Beat and Work It? With both these films being ‘dancing’ movies and both with strong links in theme to Step Up; one could say that these films are too niche market and are only suitable for tweens or young girls or parents with young kids. Let me dispel these rumours right away and inform you that though these films aren’t perfect- they’re needed in today’s culture and society. And I’d say watch them once- and you’ll be surprised by what you learn.
The other week I was scrolling through Wikipedia, trying to find something to do- because frankly I was bored. My heart wasn’t in reviewing at the time, and I needed a change, to do something different so that I’d become more rejuvenated and refreshed when I did come back to reviewing. That’s when I stumbled across the Wikipedia pages for Work It and Feel The Beat. I’m the kind of guy that glosses over the entire plot of movies and still wants to check aforementioned movie out; so as I saw these trailers one day and read the synopses, I became somewhat interested. Knowing that either or both Work It and Feel the Beat could’ve been ‘chick flicks’, and knowing that these films are somewhat similar to each other… well it dampened my excitement just a little bit. But in watching these movies, my attention was captivated all the way through- and though there are flaws, I’d say the overall premise and the themes is enough for any of you to take a watch (on your own Netflix account or on a friend’s account!), and make your own judgement from there. In past movie reviews, this is about the time where I would lay out all of the plot details. In the case of me doing two ‘reviews’ in the same post though, and for the interest of this post being too long- I won’t though. And it’s also because Feel The Beat and Work It have both been reviewed many times by more prestigious and respected sites- perhaps another opinion wouldn’t sway your views that dramatically. But let me just say this after watching these movies in a reflective and contemplative headspace… let me tell you that I learnt so much from these movies. I’m definitely sure that you will too.
Feel the Beat, filmed in 2019, is about a young professional dancer April (up and coming singer and actor Sofia Carson) trying to make it in Broadway theatre, who is blacklisted from the industry after a unfortunate mishap with one of the sponsors of the dance audition. Finding literally no option left but to travel home to New Hope, Wisconsin; she quickly finds out about a local dance competition for the town’s young dance team, and the fact that finals for this dance crew can garner April the opportunity to perform in from of dance reviewer Welly Wong (Rex Lee). Hence April becoming the coach of the dance team for less than altruistic reasons- and thus begins her journey of self-discovery, and the ultimate conclusion that winning isn’t everything, that sometimes inspiring a new generation of thinkers, movers and shakers- is reason enough to do something. Not for the reward but for the love of it. Work It, with a similar concept, probably a bigger budget and a much more positive review score according to critics, is a much more energetic and faster-paced film than Feel The Beat (90 minutes as opposed to 110 min) with singer/actor Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, Keiynan Lonsdale and Jordan Fisher rounding out the impressive cast. With Sabrina’s character Quinn failing in her university interview because of a lack of extracurricular activities, of which she quickly lies and says she’s a dancer in a prestigious high school team; she quickly rounds up her best friend and a band of misfits to compete in the annual school campus Work It competition, in order to boost her chances in being accepted into the university. So again- becoming a part of a team for less than altruistic reasons, and again this is where Quinn starts her journey of self-discovery, finding out about her love for dance and that acceptance in the university isn’t dependent on the love for dance. On the surface these two movies speak about doing things selflessly, and sacrificing your wants and desires for the desires and wants of the greater good- and though many of us don’t really dance professionally, and can’t relate to either the characters of Quinn and April, the general consensus is that sacrificing yourself for our friends and family and those you connect with on a soul level around you is noble and worthy and commendable- and building yourself up and living for yourself (which is what April and Quinn did at the start of the movies!) is bad in every imaginable way and aspect possible.
And while these truths are true in one sense, there is a deeper meaning here that goes further. One that I don’t think we as humans think about or dwell upon too often, and a theme that I think COVID-19 has brought to the forefront. And it is this. Across both films, across both heartfelt and hopeful and inspiring films (despite the busyness of Work It and the somewhat reserved nature of Feel The Beat); we are reminded that believing in yourself is working to the best of your ability is a good thing, as opposed to rising high to the top and finding that it’s lonely and miserable. Yet these films also promote the concept of rising above adversity- that everything happens for a reason. Of good triumphing over evil. It’s a more basic concept, I know. But it’s a deeper one, if you know what I mean. Both April and Quinn made rash decisions near the start of the films (April spilled coffee over her prospective boss, and Quinn spilled coffee over the sound mixing board at her school), and both were at the end of their rope when they each started undertaking their harebrained scheme of using innocents to further their way to the top. But as with Hollywood movies, there is a happy ending at the end of both films. While it’s a bit farfetched as to the ending (of which I’m not going to spoil… as you’ll be spoiled, and possibly won’t want to watch the films!), we are reminded of things working itself out for the better, and that with the right perspective and with people around us to keep us accountable and in check; beauty can arise from the ashes, no matter how desolate the ashes look like.
There’s a story in the Bible that I’m reminded about from these two films. It’s about the parable of the lost son, and about how Jesus told a parable to his disciples and those around him, about two sons who wanted their father’s inheritance. One of them decided to stay at home and work for his dad, and the other wanted the inheritance right away so that he could go off on his own into the big city and spend his money. The father is a loving father, and hence he gave the younger son what he desired- yet when the money ran out and the younger song became quickly broke (because of drinking, drugs, gambling etc), he ran back home thinking he could gain favour with his father again by being like a servant to him- not like a son. But the father loved his son unconditionally so much that he ran to him, that he forgave him and decided to throw a party, much to the older son’s displeasure- and he voiced his displeasure too, declaring to the father that he deserved the inheritance because he did things right. Now in many times of my life I’ve been the younger son, trying to gain this or that via the wrong methods or for the wrong reasons. Again at times, I’ve been the older son, trying to work hard for the wrong reasons, and appear to be hard working for the wrong reasons. In Feel the Beat and Work It, both April and Quinn were acting like the older son and the younger son- working hard in order to earn favour, and then forsaking their friends for the sake of glory. But such is the beauty of grace and the beauty of unconditional love, is that even if you do not believe in God- He still love you despite your failures and your short comings. Even if you don’t believe in God, your family and your friends have your back no matter what. Even if you make poor choices like in these two movies- family and loved ones stick by you. And if there’s one thing that you can take away from both these films- then it is this. that you are loved no matter what you do, and no amount of working harder or being the best- will change that. once we get that- once we realise that… well then banding together and surviving COVID-19 together, that’ll be a breeze, won’t it? With both Sofia Carson and Sabrina Carpenter giving the performance of their lives here (and makes me want to check out both their discography and filmography!); I reckon fans of dancing will love these two films. But I’d extend my sentiments further. People in general will resonate with these films. No matter your movie genre, you’ll be blessed and inspired here- and if you don’t believe me, please take my word for it. So as we realise that we need people in 2020, and that we need to strive for a cause bigger than ourselves; let us marvel at Sabrina’s and Sofia’s acting ability, and their presence to capture an audience. Well done guys, I can’t wait to see and hear what God has in store for you all next!
Sofia Carson on Feel the Beat: I fell in love with dance when I was 3 years old. I remember the moment when I stepped into my first pair of ballet shoes and walked into my first dance class. I remember the moment so vividly when I first walked onto a stage. It felt like home, and I felt free. All of those things that April had forgotten because she was so caught up in trying to be better, which is something that I struggle with, I have felt those things so vividly. Something about her story just felt so real for me. In the dancing moments and the more emotional moments, I felt like I was almost telling my own story. There’s something really raw and honest and vulnerable about that, and it was a really incredible sensation.
April’s so caught up in trying to be something other than herself, something better and different, because she didn’t think that just being herself was enough. These girls never tried to be anything else but exactly who they are, and we celebrated them and all their quirks and imperfections in all their glory.
This cast, we became like sisters. I loved to see how they loved and supported each other and how every day on set was more magical than the day before. For me, even though I’m an adult and I’ve been doing this for a few years, I try to never lose the magic of being on set every day, but that magic was even more heightened being around them because it was like everything was so special to them. They were just these old souls trapped in the bodies of these young girls. And I love to see their commitments to their characters and how honestly they wanted to tell their stories.
I hope you’re inspired by April’s relentless determination and absolute love of what she does. She never let anything get in her way. And I think that’s something truly inspiring, but most importantly, I hope that they feel seen in her. I hope they feel seen in all of our beautiful characters and in the heart of our story, which is you are enough. Your quirks and your imperfections are what make you beautiful. We have to celebrate who we are in all of our imperfect glory. That’s such an important message to never lose hope in ourselves and that we’ll always find it coming home.
Sabrina Carpenter on Work It: I loved the character of Quinn and I wanted to do a dance movie for a really long time, because I grew up in Pennsylvania dancing five or six days a week. That was a big part of my life when was younger. Then I wasn’t doing as much of it, so when I got the script, I was like, it’s the best of both worlds. The only thing is, I really dance poorly throughout most of the film, but that also became more of a challenge. Sometimes it was really great to be the one who had to dance poorly, and then other times, watching everyone killing it, I really wanted to be dancing better than I had to be. But it was an incredible experience. Dance makes the movie come to life in a lot of ways, which is why our table reads were so different from the movie’s final cut.
I’m very, very excited about Work It coming out and when it’s coming out. It’s like a ball of hope and fun energy, and it really makes you feel good. Things like that have been helping me a lot in this pandemic. It’s interesting because you’re obviously so used to spending months making these different projects in-person, so you’d anticipate these big releases and right now, everything is digital. It doesn’t make it any less special—I’m just excited for whoever needs it to find it.
I’ve always felt really comfortable in my own skin, in that way of listening to myself and making choices. As I’ve gotten older, actually, it’s gotten a harder to listen to my voice before other people. As we get older, there are a lot more questions and the world gets more complicated, so that’s something I’ve dealt with recently.
I always say I wish I could be like I was when I was 12 years old auditioning. I was fearless. I had no apprehension going into rooms with total strangers. I felt very comfortable with rejection, which is not something Quinn is good at whatsoever. It’s not that I don’t feel that way anymore, and I know that part is still there, but it’s been harder. I’m just happy Quinn gets to find her own voice at a certain point and stop thinking so much. That’s something I try to remind myself every day.
Did you guys end up watching either or both of Feel The Beat and Work It on Netflix? Are you planning on subscribing to Netflix in the future, or binging all of Sabrina Carpenter’s and Sofia Carson’s filmography? Are you a fan of dancing movies for life, and will you check out Adventures in Babysitting (starring both Sabrina and Sofia)? You can stay connected to all things connected with the movies on the official website (here and here); facebook; twitter; and YouTube; ! Hope you enjoy/enjoyed the movies! And please stay safe while COVID-19 is still hanging around like a parasite!
Rating: 5/5 [Feel The Beat]
Rating: 4/5 [Work It]
Rating (overall): 4.5/5
RIYL: Step Up, Coyote Ugly, Footloose, Rock Of Ages, Grease, Fame, Billy Elliot, Dirty Dancing, Moulin Rouge, School Of Rock