Work It

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Liza Koshy and Sabrina Carpenter in Work It.
Liza Koshy and Sabrina Carpenter in Work It.
Photo: Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Netflix


Work It




2/5 Stars


When Quinn Ackerman's admission to the college of her dreams depends on her performance at a dance competition, she forms a ragtag group of dancers to take on the best squad in school. Now she just needs to learn how to dance.


Here's what I can tell you from my extensive knowledge of watching every Step Up movie (all six of them).

A good dance movie has the following:

  • A group of unlikely friends connecting via dance;
  • two people who fall hopelessly in love but are ultimately pushed apart;
  • some narrative tension or a character balancing two worlds;
  • a big competition and one seriously evil rival; and
  • and some killer dance sequences.

Though Work It seems to have followed the formula of the dance flick – even down to the montage of recruiting its diverse troupe of misfit dancers – it crammed every one of these tropes into an hour and a half, but it didn't completely deliver on any of them.

The movie follows Quinn Ackerman (Sabrina Carpenter) and her mission to get into the university of her dreams. She lies to her recruitment officer (Michelle Buteau), telling her she's part of a dance crew in order to seem more interesting. She puts a troupe together with the help of her best friend (Liza Koshy) and a retired dancer (Jordan Fisher). Quinn can't dance to save her life though; to find her rhythm, she must find herself, of course.

Again, the plot of this film sounds familiar – they even resurrected the stereotype of the mean rival in the form of Isaiah, who demands everyone calls him Juilliard because that's where he's headed after high school. But like Keiynan Lonsdale's character, the story felt forced and rushed; much of it felt half-assed.

Though Quinn is the main character in the movie, it rushed through the introduction of every other character giving them very little screen time, there were no standout performances with very little meaning to the film, and is it just me or did rhythmless Quinn magically learn how to dance in five-six-seven-eight seconds?

And still, I have to say, for a dance movie, the dancing wasn't very good – even during the final showdown. I realise there were no bells and whistles in this dance flick – I didn't see a single person dance in the rain, jump in a few puddles – but there really were no wow moments. I felt as though they were trying really hard to give us Step Up, but gave us High School Musical instead.

That being said, I appreciated the cultural references – praying "in the name of the Single Ladies video, the Lemonade short film and the Netflix special Homecoming" was a nice touch – and it was so good to see the diversity of the cast. On that note, I take it back, the dancers from the ILL-Abilities crew breaking it down in the park was a standout moment.

Although Work It isn't the greatest dance movie of all time, it does offer a few good scenes and lighter moments that will at least have you smiling at the screen. I don't know if it would make it past qualifiers going up against the greats, but it's a feel-good movie, that will help pass the time.


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