April always dreamed of making it big on Broadway.
As a young girl, April practiced tirelessly to become the best dancer in her small town of New Hope, Wisconsin—land of the “Churners.” Even after her mother abandoned her and her dad, April grew in her resolve to succeed. Which is why she’s now living large in New York City, preparing for an audition that has the potential to change her life.
But Broadway is fiercely competitive, and it turns out that unknowingly taking a taxi from one of the biggest names in the business, a Miss Ruth Zimmer, isn’t exactly the best way to land a leading role on your first day of auditions. Now, Ms. Zimmer has guaranteed that April will never be able to show her face again in the musical world. So, it’s back to the small town of New Hope for April, a place she’d rather forget.
After leaving behind an ex-boyfriend, a huge reputation and old memories, April is forced to face her past. And instead of letting her shrink back, her old dance teacher suggests she revisit her childhood dance studio to teach a group of misfits how it’s done.
Begrudgingly, April complies when she learns that she may have another shot at Broadway if she can coach her team to the finals. But April will need to learn a thing or two about commitment, sacrifice and selflessness if she has any hope of leading her team toward victory.
April’s old dance teacher encourages April’s students after April crushes their spirits. This grace and kindness compel April to become a better teacher and a better person, putting others before herself. April teachers her dancers that they are strong, beautiful, unique and capable. April also apologizes for her poor, selfish behavior and learns to thank those who have helped her become the woman and dancer she is now.
Young girls learn their self-worth and find a pseudo family of sorts within their dance team. One particular girl works hard to secure a spot on the dance team, taking on extra jobs to pay for needed materials.
April’s father gives her sound advice, encouraging her to choose who she wants to become. Throughout the film, it’s clear that April strives for perfection to prove to herself that she is not worthless. It’s an idea that was reinforced in her at a young age after her mother abandoned the family. That said, the film isn’t glorifying this tendency but showing how destructive it can be if it isn’t lovingly corrected.
April and ex-boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Nick, flirt often and kiss a few times. April accidentally falls on top of Nick and lingers there a few minutes until they’re interrupted. April and Nick talk about their high school romance and how they always wanted to run away to New York together.
An effeminate male character wears a leather skirt and paints his nails. A brief scene may suggest that two male coaches are a couple and perhaps have a son (who’s competing). A woman makes a reference to drag queen RuPaul.
A few parents are disturbed after watching a group of young girls perform a provocative dance routine. Female dancers wear formfitting leotards. A young girl is embarrassed in front of her crush when a gel cup falls out of her bra.
Two groups of fathers from opposing dance teams try to determine whose daughters are better performers. Later, both groups of dads are seen with bruises and tousled hair (an outcome played for laughs), obviously implying they sought to settle the dispute with their fists.
An elderly woman falls off stage and we later hear that she broke her leg and wrist in the fall. April makes a reference to accidentally starting a fire with Nick in high school.
A young girl briefly mentions her mother’s tragic death.
April’s father says the word “a–” once. Phrases such as “oh my god,” “oh my goodness” and “oh my gosh” are heard often.
April calls herself, and some of her young dancers “stupid,” and she also informs them that they “suck” and are “crappy” multiple times. Similarly, April tells her young dancers to “suck it up” and to “grow a pair” during practices. We hear the incomplete phrase “son of a—” once, and the word “dumb” a few times.
A teacher jokes about giving her young dancers allergy medication to curb their caffeine rush after coffee.
April often belittles herself, believing she is a “failure” after getting kicked out of a Broadway audition. This leads to April having a poor attitude throughout the first half of the film as she belittles her young dancers, makes a few of them cry and has a generally selfish and entitled attitude.
A young girl lies to her mother about her upcoming dance competition. Young girls make rude comments to one another. Nick says that a teacher looks as if she might “pass a kidney stone” from nervousness. A young dancer vomits when placed in uncomfortable situations.
Netflix’s Feel the Beat is a predictable-but-sweet story about the value of self-worth, the need for selflessness and the beauty of family.
While there are many positive lessons to be learned from this rare TV-G-rated flick, a few moments might also make parents wonder why the rating wasn’t bumped up a notch. Some unsavory language is heard, and a few scenes allude to some more mature sexual content. Not to mention the rough coaching style and poor attitude that April holds throughout the majority of the film.
There’s lots to like here. But Feel the Beat is still a movie parents will want to check out themselves before they decide if it makes the competitive cut for the youngest viewers in the family.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).