Released: 7th August
Seen: 11th August
So yesterday I talked about the movie Magic Camp and compared it to the cinematic classic Sister Act 2, except Magic Camp was crap. The idea of a team of underdogs learning some kind of art in order to win a competition is nothing new but when done right it can be a lot of fun. If Magic Camp is an example of taking this story setup and handling it badly, then Work It is a great example of taking that setup and actually making something fun out of it.
Work It focuses around Quinn Ackerman (Sabrina Carpenter) who is determined to get into Duke University no matter the cost. She has great grades and all the expected extracurricular activities but when she goes for her admissions interview it turns out that might not be enough… and then she does a very silly thing. During the course of the interview, Quinn accidentally gives the admissions person the idea that Quinn is part of the school dance troupe. Quinn actually has two left feet and can’t dance to save her life, now she has to form a dance troupe with the people who might not be good enough to be in the regular dance troupe and take that troupe to the Work It dance competition.
In terms of story structure this is a fine foundation to work from and what will end up making it work is the dialogue, actors and their dancing. Going back to Magic Camp for a moment, what would’ve made that movie work was better acting, better writing and more impressive tricks (along with just using the structure that everyone else has used in order to make it work) and in that film it didn’t work. This film, everything kinda works. The actors all manage to do what’s needed from them and when given a joke, they actually make it land. Probably the standout is Liza Koshy who is given so many of the witty one liners that she has to nail and she does it almost effortlessly. The entire cast just bounces off each other and the chemistry of the main ragtag group of kids is just incredible.
Then there’s the dance sequences, AKA the reason you would want to watch this movie and they have a perfect blend of “impressive dance moves to entertain the audience” and “bad dancing that’s still entertaining, but services the story” and you can actually see the vast improvement of our lead character as she begins to embrace the process and actually learns to dance. It’s not like she can just do it overnight either, they make it clear that there’s some time that’s passed in order to accomplish the moves and as the time goes on, the entire main cast improves on its own.
This doesn’t mean absolutely everything works, some jokes don’t quite land and some scenes feel tacked on or missing. There’s an entire character who I believe is basically there because we need a gratuitous ab shot every now and then and he doesn’t really factor into the actual key plot, the ending seems to have forgotten a big moment of tension that we’ve just left dangling there. There’s still a lot of things this film could clearly improve on and it does still play out like a ton of other movies in this genre but it does that while having a charming and engaging cast that makes it easy to just switch the brain off and enjoy what we’re seeing.
Work It isn’t going to change the world and isn’t trying to be anything more than a piece of light entertainment with some fun performances by a young cast who just dance their asses off in some gloriously choreographed routines that genuinely impress. It’s just a fun movie that might play some familiar tunes, but it plays them well enough that I can dance to them.