WORK IT gets 4/10 Has lost its footing

Directed by Laura Terruso

Starring Sabrina Carpenter, Jordan Fisher, Keiynan Lonsdale, Liza Koshy
Network: Netflix


Work It is a teen dance comedy about an awkward 18-year-old (Sabrina Carpenter) who achieves near-perfection by sheer hard work. When she vows to transform her gawkiness through dance, and refine her skills, she takes to the stage of a competition in the hopes of getting into her father’s alma mater, Duke University – but will she put her foot in it?

The short answer: yes. If you’re watching Work It, it will be for one of three reasons: you’re a dance movie buff; you’ve followed Liza Koshy from Vines to now; or you’ve been swept up in the cute-aura of Lonsdale and Fisher – or, all of the above! What won’t draw you to this film is its lack of substance and creative writing.

Work It needed more time for exactly that, to work on it. The dialogue is hallmark grade, the choreography straight from a Gen-Z’s TikTok account, and the overall quality is better suited to a YouTube original than what Netflix has built a platform for distributing. It’s clear that the names of the creatives were enough for Netflix, especially with various scenes playing into their overused neon-aesthetic. The only way their new dance crew gets through, is when a seasoned group breaks a technicality, which only adds and infuriates the lack of suspension of belief in the plot. Alicia Keys, a prolific artist in her own right, produces this feature and unfortunately, it will not win any awards. It is nowhere near thought-provoking, ground-breaking, or unique – and its only drawcard is a good soundtrack; a staple for any dance film.

Liza Koshy alone saves this film’s rating, at a 4 from a 2, simply because the only laugh out loud moments are delivered from her – and even then, they were more snickers and snorts. As disjointed as Carpenter’s dancing are the two moments where the ‘humour’ deviates into crude for one scene, and dark for another, without ever being connected to the overall identity of the film.

Liza’s love interest (Drew Ray Tanner), shown twice, only serves as eye-candy and a means to use a cliché slomo edit to emphasise his stock-standard physique. His character otherwise serves no necessary, important, or impactful means to the storyline – and as Koshy’s character is merely there to service a white protagonist, it does nothing for her character development.

If nothing else (which there isn’t), Work It is an entertaining film, with all the normal pitfalls found in dance films. It’s a feel good experience, filled with bright lights, and cyclical plots that never change the status quo or develop a character in any meaningful way. Sometimes at the end of a long working day, or one filled with intense study, that’s all we have capacity for.