Feel the Beat has its charms, but the Netflix dance dramedy doesn’t have much of a movie beyond its likable young cast.
It would be an understatement to say I’m not exactly in the target demographic of Netflix’s new by-the-numbers dance dramedy Feel the Beat. But anyone can see it’s a slave to a well-hewn formula; away from the high-energy dance numbers and the obligatory genre beats, there isn’t much of a movie here.
That’s more of a shame than usual since there’s charm to spare in this predominantly young cast, and director Elissa Down knows how to organize them not just in the dance routines but in their everyday interactions. There’s also some welcome deaf representation that plays into the film’s open-armed sense of misfit spirit, but even in all its best moments there’s always a gnawing sense that it could be funnier, or more moving, or simply better.
The leading character of Feel the Beat, April (Sofia Carson), exists more as an excuse to get the ensemble together than she does a character in her own right; as she navigates her predictable arc from careerist Broadway overachiever to an instructor of a preteen dance troupe destined for a competition, connecting the dots of her development becomes less fun than simply enjoying the personalities she encounters along the way.
It’s in these kids and their bond that the film’s heart resides. But the cuteness isn’t enough to make up for a run-of-the-mill storyline and a thin script. Far from feeling the beat, what you’ll mostly feel is that you’ve seen it all before.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.