'Turn Up Charlie' review: Idris Elba grooves, channels the 'goofy father' in him for Netflix show
Netflix's 'Turn Up Charlie' sees Idris Elba play David — a struggling DJ who ends up babysitting his successful friend's daughter Gabby
Here is the perfect replacement for any of your short, binge-worthy sitcoms. Netflix's 'Turn Up Charlie' is a fun watch that is much less demanding than Idris Elba's popular show 'Luther' but it is just as gripping.
The 'Sexiest Man Alive' — who has given us macho roles such as Heimdall in 'Thor', Stringer Bell in 'The Wire' and the titular detective in 'Luther' — has broken the mold yet again with a comedic role of a manny, something he said he would do in many of his previous interviews.
'Turn Up Charlie' has a basic premise. The story revolves around Charlie, a flop DJ played by Elba, whose fame, glory and money dwindled soon after his one-hit-wonder. Playing at small weddings where nobody even bats an eye or moves hips to his music, Charlie is in desperate need for a second chance. Living with a strict but loving aunt and a weird roommate, Charlie finds it difficult to make ends meet. The turning point comes when his movie star best friend David moves back to London from Hollywood along with his superstar DJ wife Sara and their brat-of-a-kid Gabby.
At first, nothing really happens. It's rather awkward for Charlie to see his school bestie doing so well in life and living a perfect family life while he remains an "eternal bachelor" with no luck in music either.
Charlie then gets a job offer from David but, to his disappointment, it's not an opportunity to work alongside them. They offer him the job to be Gabby's manny. Her nannies quit in days of getting the job because Gabby is not only a spoilt brat but is intelligently manipulative, clever and "precocious."
Fraught with financial troubles and in a desperate bid for a second chance, Charlie takes on the role of a manny, and the rest is history. You will never view Elba the same way, of course. His sex appeal is still intact because, you know, there is nothing more sexier than "the sexiest man alive" getting along with a kid. Right? He smiles, makes silly jokes and preserves his sex appeal in the most subtle of ways. For example, Sara's assistant saves Charlie's number on her phone as "Hot Manny."
The plot is predictable. After four episodes out of eight, one pretty much knows how it ends. If there's a plot twist coming, I am ready for it, but that is highly unlikely. I'm guessing that Gabby will eventually warm up to Charlie after giving him a rather hard time.
Prolific is also the child actor Frankie Hervey who plays Gabby. She pulls off the role pretty well and is as convincing as Elba, if not more. She makes it look like she doesn't need him as much as he needs her. The two form a bond as Charlie tries to revive his career and Gabby tries to be loved by her parents who are career-oriented and more driven to be superstars than parents. Charlie's entry into Gabby's life turns their priorities upside down and I cannot wait to see how that will play out in the coming episodes.
Another reason to check out the show is, of course, to get to know a little-known side of Elba. He may be playing a struggling DJ on the show but, in reality, the actor is a pretty big-deal of a DJ going by the moniker DJ Big Driis. He played at the Royal Wedding and will be playing at Coachella this year. So if you haven't been to Elba's gigs, 'Turn Up Charlie' is a smooth watch to get to know Elba's lesser known side.
In case you haven't seen pictures of Elba taking a stroll with his family, including his two children, you will sense the kind of father he is in this sitcom. In a recent interview, the actor said; " I’m a parent and I love being a dad. I’m a goofy dad. So it was about putting all those threads together and doing something so here we are with 'Turn Up Charlie'."
'Turn Up Charlie' premieres on Netflix on March 15.