“After failing to find success on Broadway, April returns to her hometown and is recruited to train a misfit group of young dancers.” – This is the Netflix description for the 2020 dance film ‘Feel the Beat’. That’s pretty much it.
Directed by Elissa Down, this film uses every done to the death cliche in the story-making book to show your typical “loser to winner” kind of tale. Sofia Carson who plays the lead April is actually very good as the protagonist, the only problem is – April is not likable AT ALL. She is a total fake smiling bitch who is trying to make it big as a dancer in New York. She spectacularly fails at it in the beginning by unwittingly pissing off a big name in the dancing field. Broke and rejected, April heads back to her small town & then behaves like a total dick to people around her. For no damn reason. When her old dance teacher asks her if she would like to train kids for a competition, April arrogantly turns down the offer. Only after her father points out that it might get her a chance to dance in front of some big names does she agree to take up the challenge.
You can guess the rest of the story for yourself. Mean arrogant teacher + bunch of clueless kids + a big competition that can turn all their lives around = teacher & kids bond, become best friends and cross expectations in the competition. Lol. Or should I sigh? I sighed a lot during the course of the film. “Should I stop the film?” my movie partner asked me at least three times and I said “hey, can I not express irritation if I find something annoying, doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch it”.
Why did I even watch it to the end? Only because of the very cute kids in the film. Two the the kids are so damn adorable, that you might want to adopt at least one of them. If not for the talented little children in the cast, this movie would’ve been absolutely unbearable. Unfortunately my favourite ones haven’t been billed in the cast anywhere, so I am just going to drop a picture with them marked in it. These two were the youngest and provided the most laughs and smiles with their endearing performances.
For a dance film, the choreography wasn’t all great. Even the numbers with April (Sofia Carson) weren’t impressive. The last group dance number she performs with the kids onstage was heartwarming, not because of the choreography, but because of their backstories. The romance sub-plot about April & her ex-boyfriend (Wolfgang Novotgratz) was absolutely unnecessary & only adds sentimental crap value to the plot; although Wolfgang is a handsome devil, so he might make the ladies happy for adding aesthetic value to the screen.
Like I indicated earlier, it’s a stale tale. April’s back-story is just not convincing enough – the kid growing up without a mom. I mean, is that reason enough to be an heartless asshole who hurts people close to her & leaves them with abandonment issues?
Honestly, there is not much else to say about “Feel the Beat”. The kids can’t feel it at first. But April trains them hard and the viewers get to see them grow from bad to decent. The climax has a super delightful dance with the under-9 kids and I absolutely loved it. If you are having a hard day and just want to watch a simple, predictable film with cute kids, you can pick this one. Or skip it. I would give it a 5/10, an extra one point for the charming children.