Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the Netflix film Work It.
When this movie was first announced, I thought there were already enough dance movies. But once I actually watched Work It, I changed my mind because this is a fresh take on the dance movie genre. It’s funny, culturally aware and has many awesome dance scenes.
Sabrina Carpenter stars as Quinn Ackermann and this is also the first time she has taken on the role of Executive Producer. When asked by ET about what sets Work It apart, Sabrina said it was the diverse and exceedingly talented cast and the movie’s sense of humor. I completely agree with this: the diversity feels so natural for a movie set in a high school and the dialogue is very witty. Was it ever in doubt that this movie was going to be funny when it also stars Liza Koshy?
In Work It, Quinn desperately wants to attend her late father’s alma mater, Duke University. Her interview goes badly because the Admissions Officer (Michelle Buteau) is tired of reading the same applications over and over, she wants something different. So, Quinn lies and says she is in her school’s famous dance team, the Thunderbirds who are captained by Julliard (Keiynan Lonsdale).
She enlists her best friend Jas (Liza Koshy) to teach her how to dance, to be ready for the Thunderbirds audition. Inevitably, she doesn’t make it in, so she and Jas create their own team out of the undiscovered talent in the school and aim for the Work It dance competition. Quinn pursues Jake Taylor (Jordan Fisher), an award-winning choreographer, to persuade him to choreograph for them.
There are a couple of twists in the plot, but ultimately, it is formulaic. The TBDs (Quinn’s dance team) are the underdogs and they go on to win the competition. This is a story that has proved to be popular, therefore directors keep using it in movies such as Step Up and Zapped. It is not realistic for a group of amateur dancers to win the competition. It would have been more interesting if the director, Laura Terruso, had subverted the trope and showed how Quinn finding something she truly enjoys is more important than her winning. I also wish Terruso had leaned into the grief storyline more as it would have made Quinn’s motivation clearer and her character arc more meaningful.
Additionally, I don’t like how they implied that your grades will slip if you do dance. I understand that it was important for the plot, but I felt they could have done it differently so it seemed more like all of Quinn’s extra-curriculars were piling up on top of her and causing her grades to drop rather than just dance being the cause.
Despite the plot being basic, the acting performances are terrific. Although she is only 21 years old, Sabrina Carpenter is an old hand at this. It must have been an exciting challenge to play a terrible dancer whose dancing improves a lot by the end of the movie. She does it brilliantly.
Liza Koshy can now officially say that she has transitioned to the mainstream. She is the funniest person in this movie and the chemistry between Quinn and Jas is perfect. Speaking of chemistry, there is tons of it between Quinn and Jake. Jordan Fisher has played a romantic lead a few times now and I don’t think anyone would complain if he becomes the Hugh Grant of his generation. A special congratulation goes to Keiynan Lonsdale, who brings nuance to the usually two-dimensional mean character.
The dancing is high tempo and by the end, you will want to join in. My favorite dance scene is the dance-off between Jas and Julliard because there are so much sass and great free-styling in it. All the dance scenes are supported by a wonderful soundtrack. The producers knew their target audience was teenagers and created the soundtrack accordingly, including artists like Dua Lipa and Normani.
Conclusion – 3.7 stars
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Work It and would happily watch it again. Although it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre plot-wise, it still feels fresh with its sharp sense of humor and diverse cast.
Work It is streaming now on Netflix.
Featured image via @sabrinacarpenter