'Feel The Beat' Review: The Netflix dance drama is like 'Step Up' with a younger cast and more perseverance
Spoilers for 'Feel the Beat'
Picture 'Step Up': The ultimate ensemble dance movie with the most upbeat music and the coolest dance moves to grace our screens. Now picture, 'Step Up' again, but comprising a much younger cast with bony hands and legs, bubbly smiles and the determination to get to the dance finals – that's Netflix's new comedy-drama, 'Feel The Beat'. It is bound to melt hearts with its "sort of cliche" plotline because the events that transpire during the course of the film are rather predictable. Yet, it is surprisingly refreshing and invokes a sense of hope, love, perseverance and achievement, which makes it a fun watch with your family or children.
The film focuses on April Dibrina (played by Sofia Carson), a small-town girl with an undeterred dream to be a world-renowned Broadway dancer. Of course, that means she's the ultimate perfectionist and puts a whole lot of hard work and time into practice. She is an aspirant and nothing can dissuade her. But when her big day arrives, she completely botches up her only chance at theatrical stardom, deeming her a 'chorus girl' possibly forever.
After being essentially blacklisted from the theatre industry and unwillingly kissing her career good-bye, for the time being, she packs her bags and heads back to her hometown of New Hope, Wisconsin. Her little mishap has made her an internet sensation – not really in a good way – and she decides to lay low while planning her next move.
What she doesn't expect is to be spotted by her former dance teacher, Miss Barb (Donna Lynne Champlin) who recruits her to train a group of young misfits so they can participate in a dance competition, which is merely a few months away. April begrudgingly accepts the offer, after she learned that the dance competition could be her only way to salvage her long-lived dream. Then ensues vigorous training, a rather uplifting montage of a young group of girls learning to dance from scratch, under April's strict guidance.
'Feel the Beat' is the story of a new hope, that fittingly is also the name of the town that April hails from. New Hope is your typical small-town, where everyone knows everyone. Even so, it is a tight-knit community, where everyone is also extremely loving and supportive of each other. After practically sabotaging her career, she heads back home with no hope of ever making it big, until she finds new hope in the kids. She learns to see herself in them and trains them to be the best they can be so they can make it to the final round of the Nationals. But while the whole concept of dancing forms the outline of the film, there is so much more to it than just dancing. In retrospect, it can be seen as a journey of self-discovery. We understand that April has some mommy issues, seeing as her mother left her at a young age, never to return. Her single-mindedness when it comes to dancing is possibly her way of proving to her absentee mother, that she made it, and she didn't need her mother around.
The fun and frolic only adds to the film's charm. The happiness and enjoyment shown in the children as well as their parents, who are hands-on in making sure their child becomes a dancing star, is contagious. Just as any sweet family-oriented drama there is a little love story enmeshed in that storyline. It doesn't form the core of the film, just more of a side plot, but it is rather charming. When April first left for New York, she had broken up with her boyfriend, Nick (portrayed by Wolfgang Novogratz). But he never held a grudge against, and we learn that it was because he realized how happy she was pursuing her dreams and voluntarily let her go so she could live her life. However, the one who does hold a grudge against her for leaving without a word is Nick's little sister, Sarah (Eva Hauge), who idolized April and took a liking to dance because of her.
Directed by Elissa Down, 'Feel the Beat' is an overall feel-good film that is heart-warming, while also conveying the message that hard work finally pays, but only if you persevere and chase your dreams. That also makes it a perfect watch for children, because the "moral of the story" is something they can possibly imbibe, the foremost being - when you make a commitment, you honor it. As mentioned before, the film is a bit of a cliche and slightly predictable that doesn't put you off.
The film also features Rex Lee, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Lidya Jewett, Sadie Lapidus, Johanna Colón, Shaylee Mansfield, Shiloh Nelson, Justin Allan, Carina Battrick, and Kai Zen along with Marissa Jaret Winokur and Enrico Colantoni. 'Feel the Beat' is now streaming on Netflix.