Netflix teen movies follow the same recipe: take a peppy teen star protagonist, comic relief, a love interest, break-up and make-up plot points, mix them together, pour into a high school, bake for 90 minutes and voila: a Netflix Original. But while Work It certainly feels like a product of this formula, its sweetness and self-awareness help it to stand out from its contemporaries.

The plot is Pitch Perfect meets Step Up 2: Misfit dance troupe must beat cocky champion dance troupe in a dance competition to prove that acceptance trumps exclusivity. It’s familiar but fun and hits all the beats you might expect: sceptical retired trainer brought in for one last job, a bitchy antagonist, a romantic interest for the lead, training montages, last-minute fallouts, and a bit about finding your own groove.

But Work It never feels too schmaltzy, mostly due to the energy of the leads, best friends Quinn (Sabrina Carpenter) and Jas (Liza Koshy), and the film’s commitment to sending up the clichés we expect (“According to my research of every dance movie ever made, we have a very important ingredient for winning: a can-do spirit”, Quinn naively opines). It doesn’t blow the formula, or do a Pitch Perfect and actually question the lunacy of such high stakes being put on a tournament for an extracurricular activity, but it gives a few nods to let us know, “don’t worry, we know it’s a cliché, but just go with it”. If you allow them that, you’ll have a fun time.

Netflix Originals sometimes feel like anything but. While Work It is certainly a movie made by algorithm, by utilising the cast to the best of its abilities and not taking itself too seriously, it’s an enjoyable and sweet distraction (and a fantastic showcase of dancing talent).



CAST: Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, Jordan Fisher, Keiynan Lonsdale

DIRECTOR: Laura Terruso

WRITER: Alison Peck

SYNOPSIS: A high school senior’s admission to her dream college depends on her misfit dance troupe winning a dance competition.