Movie #266 2020: Work It (2020)

Read the title of this movie without singing Missy Elliott‘s legendary anthem ‘Work It’. I dare you. It ain’t happening.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie about the writings and stylings of Missy Misdemeanour Elliott. No, this is a dance movie. If you’ve seen any type of dance movie before, you’ll know that they pretty much all follow the same formula, and this is no different.

In this foray into dance, high schooler Quinn (Sabrina Carpenter) is due to graduate when it becomes glaringly obvious that nothing is making her stand out enough to get into the same college that her father went to. When she meets with the Duke University admissions officer, she accidentally lets slip that she’s part of the high school dance squad, ‘The Thunderbirds’, despite never being anything more than the lighting manager for the team. Best friend Jasmine (Liza Koshy) steps in, leaving her real position on the dance team behind to start a new group with Quinn. Though Quinn is definitely not a good dancer by any stretch of the imagination, they team up to recruit several other weird but talented misfits in order to compete in ‘Work It’: a dance competition for only the best high school troupes.

As we’ve already established, Work It has as obvious a plot as any dance movie, but it’s no worse than any other dance movie either. Whilst the story lines and themes at hand may be tired and unoriginal, it’s still just as okay as the others. (Center Stage, as the superior dance movie, I’m not including you in this, hun.)

Like any dance film that came before this, the actual dance sequences are all great. Exciting and technical, there’s one thing that every dance movie to date has got right, and that’s fresh, current choreography. This movie contributes to that record. As a former dancer, I’d happily just watch people dance for 90 minutes straight, so it’s nice to see they had some interesting and exciting choreography to tie the average script together. 

With a young, uber-talented cast, Work It excels in the majority of its casting decisions. Jordan Fisher is an absolute star, Liza Koshy stands out for her humour and unexpected dance ability, and Sabrina Carpenter is generally likeable enough to lead the whole shebang. Sadly Keiynan Lonsdale is a little bit of a mis-cast here, and his character (who is ridiculously named “Julliard”, by the way) ends up being the worst part about the film. There’s just something about the over the top bitchy gay character that is so overused and overplayed, and it leaves one feeling that they could have gone down a more interesting path with that role.

Albeit being overly generic, I have to admit that there were parts of this movie that were really fun, and there are some comedic moments throughout that will make anyone laugh. There’s nothing ‘Oscar-worthy’ about any aspect of such a film, but it’s one of those things that you’ll enjoy while watching and then forget the next day. And that’s okay sometimes!

Where the shoddy script does fall short however is its ending, which is just completely abrupt with way too many loose ends. For instance, the protagonist’s mother gets completely abandoned in the wasteland by the film’s conclusion, and it would have been nice to have some closure on her storyline. However, this is a good film if you want to pass some time and not have to pay too much attention to anything for 90 minutes.

Work It is not challenging in any sense of the word, but it’s a fun, stupid teen film that you’ll probably enjoy if you don’t expect too much of it.

Work It is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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