Dance comedy drama Feel the Beat is a formulaic but sweet family flick.
Staring: Sofia Carson, Donna Lynne Champlin, Enrico Colantoni, Wolfgang Novogratz, Rex Lee, and Marissa Jaret Winokur
Directed by: Elissa Down
Tagline: Take your chance. Make your move.
A self-absorbed young dancer starts coaching a group of preteens and (eventually) learns life lessons as a result in Feel the Beat, a formulaic comedy drama that is let down by its predictability.
After a mishap not only embarrasses her publically but also threatens to end her Broadway dreams, icy perfectionist April (Sofia Carson) moves back to her hometown, where she is welcomed enthusiastically by her old dance teacher, Barb (Donna Lynne Champlin).
April rejects Barb’s offer to coach the town’s struggling tween dance troupe, New Hope, but rethinks the proposal upon realizing that the situation could potentially work in her favour. Should New Hope do well and proceed to the finals of a dance competition, April could get the opportunity to perform with her students in front of judge Welly Wong (Rex Lee), a Broadway producer who could save her career.
Things unfold exactly how you would expect. No surprises are in store for viewers here. The story just puts together basic plot points that we have seen many times before (Bring It On, Glee, Pitch Perfect, School of Rock). You have misfit underdogs trying to succeed; a driven protagonist who needs to learn what’s important in life; a requisite romance (that, in this case, is never fully developed) and an uninspired, predictable resolution.
There are Disney vibes aplenty here, and a Disney star (Carson) also takes centre stage. A considerably talented supporting cast – both in the form of seasoned actors (Champlin, Colantoni) and young performers who play members of New Hope (like Eva Hauge and Lidya Jewett) – try to make the emotional beats land, even when the drama doesn’t feel particularly authentic.
Not much about the project is very memorable, partially because the film doesn’t have anything new to say. To stand out, Feel the Beat needed a different spin on its worn-out concept, but the movie just doesn’t have a distinctive take on things or a unique flavour. The tale may have moments of warmth and there is the occasional humorous touch that works, but in its decision to take a by-the-numbers approach, the film misses the chance to make a mark. What we are left with is a safe, indistinctive retread that borrows heavily from better productions and isn’t as remarkable or joyous as it should be.
All in all, Feel the Beat dutifully follows the competition-themed tween/teen dramedy recipe, and while it is sweet enough to be palatable, it doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. The film isn’t likely to impress those who have already experienced numerous similar cinematic offerings but may get a more enthusiastic response from its younger, less jaded target audience.
Rating system: ★Not on your life ★ ½ If you really must waste your time ★★ Hardly worth the bother ★★ ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
★★★ Good enough for a look see ★★★ ½ Recommended viewing ★★★★ Don’t miss it ★★★★ ½ Almost perfect ★★★★★ Perfection