‘Feel the Beat’ Review: Tough Love in the Dance Studio


A number of energetic dance routines elevate “Feel the Beat,” a predictable dramedy streaming on Netflix. The film hews to the formula of “The Bad News Bears,” following a self-absorbed Broadway achiever named April (Sofia Carson) who becomes an instructor for a preteen dance troupe. Her heart has been hardened in blind ambition, but it’s nothing a few gawky kids in leotards can’t revive.

In the film’s opening moments, April botches a Broadway audition by way of an embarrassing public mishap. Her cap brim pulled down in shame, she grudgingly decamps to her Wisconsin hometown where she accepts a job teaching at her old ballet studio. She hopes that an upcoming youth dance competition — in which the instructor shares the spotlight — will resuscitate her career, but her prickly tough love approach leaves the pigtailed girls petrified.

The harmony among the kids, particularly the older girls Kari (Lidya Jewett) and Sarah (Eva Hauge), is the film’s greatest asset, and the director, Elissa Down, uses their natural charm as a crutch for the run-of-the-mill story. In an authentic touch, one of the dancers is deaf, and the group often uses sign language to communicate. The kids’ enthusiasm as an ensemble suggests a funnier, warmer movie, a cute clone of “School of Rock” in which the misfits take center stage as they blossom into talented ballerinas. Their joy is enough to thaw April’s iciness, but it can’t save the slight movie that surrounds them.

Feel the Beat

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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