Knowing Its Lane: Our Review of ‘Feel The Beat’ on Netflix

Knowing Its Lane: Our Review of ‘Feel The Beat’ on Netflix

Sometimes you’ve got to get back to your roots…

While Feel The Beat certainly hits on some familiar story telling beats, it executes them all very well making for an enjoyable affair that the whole family can get behind.

When talented, self-centered dancer April (Sofia Carson) is banished from Broadway, she grudgingly moves back in with her dad (Enrico Colantoni) in her small Wisconsin hometown. Trying her best to avoid everyone in her tight-knit community, including her first love Nick (Wolfgang Novogratz), April is reluctantly recruited by her former dance teacher (Donna Lynne Champlin) to coach the town’s misfit group of young dancers. Initially believing she’s found the path back to Broadway, April gains so much more.

As Feel The Beat is about as formulaic as you’d expect, you might be shocked to find out that it actually works in its favour on this one because the formula works (thanks to a hell of a lot of charm) in this engaging little ode to small town life and how you maybe shouldn’t want to be running away from it all that fast.

Make no mistake, there isn’t a damn thing that is effectively reinventing the wheel and if you’ve seen more than three movies in your entire life then you can see the end coming.  But that being said this isn’t the kind of movie which is about the destination that the narrative wants to take us, instead it’s just about enjoying the ride.

Director Elissa Down does a serviceable job of taking us along from beginning to end with a slick and fast moving affair.  The movie looks good while being an obvious budget and it never gets overly bogged down in any kind of unnecessary exposition getting us to the core of what makes a dance movie in a small town tick; The relationships between the people.

Screenwriters Shawn Ku and Michael Armbruster run through the bullet points in an effective but familiar manner. It all works for the audience that it is aiming for and isn’t trying to be anything more than what it already is which is why the natural charm from some of these characters is what really helps put the film over the top.

Sofia Carson who is probably best known from the TV show The Descendants does a solid job as April; the stuck up self centered dancer who has to return home with to lick her wounds after not making it on the big stage of Hollywood.  She starts at the unlikable place where she needs to begin and then allows the character to progress out and learn how to genuinely teach students to get to where she’s actually been in life.  We buy where she’s been and where we all know she’s going.

Having been shot mostly in Toronto there are a few character actors that you’ll notice popping up like Enrico Colantoni and Dan Lett but the real standouts of the film are the young dancers that she comes home to teach.  A real band of misfits with character for days that Carson’s April simply has to react to.

In many ways; Feel The Beat is a bit of a mash-up taking the small town drama and romance and wrapping it up in a sports theme dance movie where the rag-tag group who believes in themselves are all better off because of what we’ve just witnessed.  It’s hardly original, but it’s certainly fun, which is all it ever tried to be in the first place.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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