Work It (2020)

Work It
Director: Laura Terruso
Writer: Alison Peck
Cast: Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, Jordan Fisher, Keiynan Lonsdale, Briana Andrade-Gomes, Kalliane Brémault, Naomi Snieckus, Bianca Asilo, Neil Robles, Nathaniel Scarlette, Tyler Hutchings, Indiana Mehta, Drew Ray Tanner, Michelle Buteau
Seen on: 4.4.2021

Plot:
Quinn (Sabrina Carpenter) knows exactly what she wants: to go to the college her late father went to. She has been honing her CV just so, filling it with the right extracurricular activities and the right grades to get accepted. When she finally has her interview, though, the admissions officer (Michelle Buteau) is looking for something more unusual, though. Seeing her dreams float away, Quinn fibs that she is part of her high school’s award-winning dance team the Thunderbirds – she did their lighting after all. This seems to be the ticket, but now Quinn has to actually dance at the competition. Asking her best friend and Thunderbird Jasmine (Liza Koshy) for help, she starts training, but even so, the Thunderbirds don’t want her. So Quinn decides that she has to form a dance crew of her own.

Ah, dance movies… I will always fall into their trap and then shake my head at their ridiculousness while mostly enjoying them. Work It is a decent member of that particular genre, maybe slightly more on the ridiculous side than on the enjoyable one, but overall it delivers what you want and expect from a dance movie.

The film poster showing all the main characters in fierce poses as a dance crew.

I am used to dance movies not being the most thought through films with the most complex characterizations. But even for a dance movie, the characters here – as far as they get any personality at all – feel very flat. They get one attribute, two if they’re lucky and that’s pretty much all the work put into them or their motivations. The catty gay guy. The overachiever. The lusty best friend (honorable mention here goes to Liza Koshy who gives Jasmine more profile than I would have thought possible). The love interest with a tragic past.

The plot is equally perfunctory. Things are conveniently just so that we get a maximum of dance scenes with a minimum of explanations. And even those few explanations we do get are constantly threatened with falling apart if you look at them too closely, so you better not.

Quinnt (Sabinra Carpenter) and her dance crew, including instructor Jake (Jordan Fisher) during their performance.

The film does have a certain charm regardless and that is thanks to two things. One, the dance scenes that are actually pretty nice, though not quite as impressive as what we’ve seen in other dance movies. And two, Jordan Fisher’s incredible charm that is even stronger here than in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. (It helps that he gets to play a slightly older dude with tattoos who dances here. Just more my thing.)

But overall, Work It is ultimately quite forgettable, lacking the big emotions to remain memorable. But it is fun while it lasts.

Quinn (Sabrina Carpenter) and her best friend Jasmine (Liza Koshy) leaving the auditorium together.

Summarizing: dance movie fun.

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