An Enjoyable & Heartwarming Drama
Within 10 minutes of watching this Netflix Original, you’d be forgiven for writing All Together Now off as just another teen movie. The musical montages, the uplifting and jovial tone and the obvious feel-good message about following your dreams fools you into letting your guard down.
Only, All Together Now bait and switches its premise midway through, changing from a quirky teen drama to something much more poignant and reflective.
The story revolves around a teenager named Amber who happens to be homeless and living in a bus with her troubled Mother, who refuses to get help with their situation. Still, that’s not enough to dampen Amber’s spirits.
Between volunteering at a care home and teaching English, she receives a lucrative offer to audition at a prestigious music college in Pittsburgh. It’s all on the up for our protagonist and on the surface, she has a perfect life given the circumstances.
Predictably, the situation comes back to money and a proud Amber remains determined to pay her way. Only, these aspirations come crashing down when tragedy strikes. Without giving too much away, a shocking revelation midway through the movie changes the tone from light-hearted drama to something much more poignant and melodramatic.
It’s a wise move too and one that tackles some important themes along the way. The characters are great additions and Joan is easily the comedic highlight of the entire picture. Amber’s diverse friends help to strengthen the cast and really channel that Glee-esque feel of building each other up.
Ultimately though it’s Auli’i Cravalho who really shines as Amber. Her performance is great and she manages to switch between emotional states in a believable way. It also helps that her obvious star power shines during a few of the musical moments.
Despite its ambition, All Together Now does sometimes feel it’s added too much to its plate. Because of this, a lot of the supporting characters fall by the wayside in favour of Amber taking centre stage.
While this is understandable, the final performance at the end doesn’t quite have the same impact it perhaps would have done had we spent a bit more time with these people.
Still it’s a minor point in what’s otherwise a really enjoyable and heartwarming picture. There’s some great themes here touching on subjects like healing, pride, friendship and family. It may not be the best drama of the year, but it’s one that has its heart in the right place.