A Simple But Surprisingly Fun Film
Simple, formulaic and full of tired cliches, Work It has all the ingredients to be another sure-fire Netflix dud. Yet somehow, Work It embraces these tropes and ideas, managing to produce a surprisingly funny and feel-good drama. Yes it’s not going to appear on any “Best Of” lists. No, it’s not going to be remembered for months on end. However, it is a light, breezy movie that’s very easy to slip into and perfect for a weekend watch.
At the heart of this dancing drama lies Quinn, a goofy girl who narrates her way through the film. Topped up with a nerdy cocktail of Ted Talks and clumsy interactions, Quinn’s chances of getting into her dream college are handed a stiff dose of reality. You see, these colleges want much more than good grades; they also want their students engaging in extra-curricular activities to be accepted. In order to do so, Quinn tells a little white lie that she’s a prestigious dancer for the Thunderbirds. The only problem is, she can’t dance and that very same group banished her for messing up the lighting earlier in the movie.
So predictably Quinn decides to start her own group and compete at the upcoming dance competition, showcasing that she has what it takes to get in. Along the way Quinn learns the value of friendship as she recruits an eclectic group of kids to join her ,who all slot into the usual archetypes you’d expect. Therein lies the biggest problem with this movie.
There’s no characterisation for anyone except Quinn and, to an extent, Jas. There’s very little depth to the supporting players beyond “the nerdy one”, “the goth one” etc. and this really feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. That’s to say nothing of the “evil” Thunderbirds group fronted by Julliard Pembroke whom TBD (the name for Quinn’s dance troupe) compete against. The movie hits all the usual check-boxes in this genre and you’ll see the obvious road-bumps coming a mile off.
Having said that though, Work It isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it looks to liven things up with a blend of dancing, montages and humour. The former features your standard choreographed dances and although there are a few nice moves, don’t go into this expecting Diversity level tricks and body popping.
The latter is where this film really shines. There’s some surprisingly funny moments here that had me laughing out loud. The dark humour featuring Harold in the nursing home is easily the best joke but there’s a variety of different forms of humour too. Slapstick, sarcasm and your goofy absurdist styles all feature which help mix things up.
Work It is unlikely to work you into a frenzy. You’ve seen this form of storytelling a million times before and the characterisation is pretty weak too. Despite its flaws though, there’s an undeniable charm here that make it a really easy to watch movie. It’s simple stuff but ultimately this simplicity helps the film shine enough to make it a competent feel-good title.