Work It – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Work It.

Story

Someone found an old 90’s sports movie script and decided to gender-swap the cast and make it about dancing. You’ve got all the usual stereotypes, the slightly goofy sex-obsessed best friend, the nerdy driven main character, the beautiful love interest, the parent who pushes too hard, and the forgettable background characters.

Despite being predictable, it still pulled it off pretty well, no huge loose ends or glaring issues.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were a little stereotypical, but they still felt unique for the most part.

I don’t like that the diva villain is queer-coded. The only remotely queer character being the villain is pretty crappy.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

For a sports movie selling itself as a romance, this had a lot of very clever humour. I doubt it’ll make it’s way into my daily quoting, but it was believable and funny.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Visually the movie was very well shot. The dancing wasn’t always the best, but cinematography was good. Several scenes I could have told you were from a dance movie without having seen the movie.

The music was good. I enjoyed the pop heavy soundtrack and my youngest felt compelled to get up and dance more than once.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The angsty bits weren’t too long and other than the terrible relationship between the mom and daughter, I enjoyed this movie. It’s one of the few I’ve reviewed that had the entire family laughing.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a typical sports movie with a romance. The dancing isn’t exceptional, but the story is a lot a fun and quite funny.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

The Christmas House – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas House.

Story

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies and they’re all a little shallow, but this one felt very surface level. There are 3 major storylines and none of them get the time or treatment they need. The mother’s depression, the older brother’s love story, and the younger brother’s adoption issues are all glossed over with Holiday Magic. However, I do have to give them credit for bringing up emotions and issues that are relatable.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a nice mix of characters with a gay couple and a hispanic love interest. It could have used some more realistic diversity, but it certainly tried. I like that the gay couple weren’t portrayed as perfect or as stereotypes, but as any busy young couple. They were set as the stable couple. Unfortunately, their storyline was short and they were the most interesting characters.

The mom’s depression after retirement was understandable and a little too easily overcome. The main love story was sappy and cute. I don’t feel like any of the characters got enough screen time to talk through their issues, making the whole thing feel like Christmas magic fixed it. I don’t like that.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The main character being a TV lawyer led to a lot of really funny lines. There were some great magic puns and the younger brother was nice and wise. The quips between siblings was well done and believable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’ll cut them some slack since Hallmark movies are filmed at breakneck speeds, but there were a lot of editing hiccups and some weird camera angles. The house was gaudy, but not all that fantastic. The actors were pretty though.

The music did what it needed and rarely got noticed.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed watching some of my favourite sci-fi tv actors in a holiday movie. Beyond that, it was a lovely, sappy movie that had a smile on my face the entire time.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, for queer representation. That being said, the movie was a sappy holiday movie with surface level storylines that could have been better served with more talking. It is, however, a joyful stress and angst-lite movie.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

Story

It was a cute Christmas story but was derivative and predictable. Each beat (no pun intended) was expected and the middle bits dragged a little.

The emphasis on the necklace felt like an unused thread, and the “magic” inventor granddaughter proved she was smart and then the plot didn’t let her fix or make anything. It also contained one of my most hated tropes, where the adults don’t listen to the kids.

I’m trying really hard to ignore the moral, ethical, and humane questions of creating sentient toys and being able to mass produce a slave toy race that you can “reprogram” when they don’t behave.

Score: 0

Characters

The acting in the movie is superb. The characters are mostly pretty awesome. I didn’t really like the mail woman / love interest. Her constant mis-naming rubbed me the wrong way. Overall she came off as a male Christmas love interest, which I’m not a fan of.

The Jeronicus and his apprentice storyline is sad but extremely well acted. Journey was a joy and should have had a larger part in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was appropriately steampunk meets modern day in a way that only a holiday fable could do. Some overly sappy and some kinda deep.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The sets, clothing, lighting, character design, and worldbuilding are fantastic. The cinematography was amazing and background information on posters, etc is meticulously done.

The music is fantastic, although I would have liked one last big number at the end.

I found the choreography a little repetitive, but not enough to dampen my awe at the music and visuals.

Score: 1

Fun

I was awed by the first few frames and hooked by the first song. It wasn’t until the midway point that I fell a little out of love but it passed fast enough. My family and children were riveted. The 17 month old would stop and watch, or dance, at every song and cooed at the adorable robot.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen with some amazing songs and more than a little magic. It falls flat if you think about it too long, and all the beauty and wonderful acting doesn’t cover up the lack of original story.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Arthur Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film Arthur Christmas.

Story

Oh angsty Christmas. This movie is well thought out both as a comedy and drama. The world building is both enormous in scale and efficiently done.

Score: 0.5

Characters

With the exception of Bryony and Mrs. Claus, I find the majority of the characters annoying. It’s not a flaw of the writing, but more a necessity for the character’s growth. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend a large portion of the movie stopping myself from yelling at the screen.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Extremely well acted with unique vocal traits and some great lines. Overall the dialogue is smart, well thought out, and very funny.

I’ve watched this now in Quebec French and in English and both are fantastic.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is starting to show it’s age but is still impressive. Lots of background visual gags and the whole thing is quite pretty.

The music is acceptable but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoy the movie and I don’t. It’s a lot of angst and a lot of awkward but it does end all nice and fuzzy. There’s also a lot of fun and funny bits.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A Christmas story that revels in it’s worldbuilding without getting boring. The characters grow and angst their way through a heartwarming story with plenty of laughs.

Final Score: 3 Star out of 5

Night at the Museum Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 movie Night at the Museum, the 2009 movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and the 2014 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

*I reviewed Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009* I didn’t re-read that review when writing this one. Ratings may vary, I’m grumpier and older.

Story

Night at the Museum 1

The concept for this story is fantastic, a wonderful idea. The story is a little uneven I really can’t stand the interludes of stupid humour.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

The story was an entertaining modern D&D adventure. It was cute and clever but there was something unsettling about the shoehorned love plot. It was also terribly busy and seemed to ignore parts of the first movie. (If Dick Van Dyke can turn the tablet off, why can’t Stiller?)

Also the Smithsonian has the worst security in existence. Why was Ben Stiller not arrested, he should have been on a million cameras.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

This is a movie that knew it was the last in a series, but left a lot of openings for spin-offs. (Thank goodness that didn’t happen.) The story was a slight variation on the previous ones with a London twist. Definitely the weakest of the group.

Score: 0

Characters

Night at the Museum 1

The self awareness of Teddy Roosevelt along with the stellar cast and characters makes this movie. Roles that could have been boring or cliché are brought to life with depth and heart. It’s also nice that there wasn’t a romantic subplot with the historian. I truly hate dumb characters and needless bosses which made this less fun. Ben Stiller and Ricky Gervais’s antics are frustrating at best and boring at worst.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

Ben Stiller is still annoying but there’s less of him. I felt like leaving the room when he talked with Jonah Hill or the monkeys. There was certainly not enough time given to the characters from the first movie.

That being said, Amy Adams was spectacular as was Hank Azaria. It was also nice to see that Stiller’s character had evolved not reverted which is common for movies.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

Ben Stiller’s humour is still not my thing and there were two of him in this. I would have taken another six of him over Rebel Wilson. Not my style of comedy. The rest of the cast, as usual, did a great job. This is Robin Williams’ last live action movie and he’s great. The new additions are funny and well done. It was nice to see the trio of nightguards again.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Night at the Museum 1

There are gags and moments of true depth in this movie. Everything from Robin Williams is gold and a lot of the other secondary characters dialogue is wonderful.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

The dialogue was much more developed in this one, lots of fantastic banter between the characters.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 3

When they weren’t making melting nose jokes or peeing monkey commentary the movie had some very funny lines and a few very deep moments.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Night at the Museum 1

The special effects are a little dated but still hold the beauty and wonder of a museum coming to life. The cinematography has a few moments of genius.

The music is epic and grandiose and used perfectly.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 2

This movie took all the beautiful visuals from the first one and doubled down. The special effects are bigger and prettier. The hall of paintings was excellent world building. Visually this was wonderful to watch. And that fight scene at the end was fantastic.

The music didn’t disappoint and although I won’t be running out to buy the soundtrack, it was suitably epic.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 3

The movie is beautiful and absolutely well done visually. The Esher painting scene and the snake dragon thing fight were stunningly beautiful. It was a beautiful movie that was well shot.

The music once again elevated the silliest gag to epic.

Score: 1

Fun

Night at the Museum 1

This movie is entertaining nearly throughout. Again I dislike Stiller and Gervais but the rest made up for it.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

There’s a little cringe at the beginning and the whole Brundan thing took too long, but after that it was a fun thrill ride. I still was uncomfortable with the love story though, and that took some pleasure out of it.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

This movie had more awkward in it and longer anoying gags. It’s the shortest of the three but felt like the longest. It also felt like it took a long time getting to any sort of plot.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Night at the Museum 1

This is a lovely movie with a good message and some exceptional actors doing their comedic best. It’s fun and despite a few really dumb moments, it’s a classic. I also have to give the film makers credit for a racially diverse group that is actually properly cast.

Finals Score: 3 Stars

Night at the Museum 2

This was a good sequel that built on the first and brought some fantastic action and visuals. Amy Adams is spectacular as is Hank Azaria. Definitely worth a watch.

Finale Score: 3.5 Stars

Okay, so I went and looked at my previous review and it’s pretty consistent.

Night at the Museum 3

It’s a fitting end to a series of movies that was okay but not great. It didn’t fully live up to its potential, but was elevated by brilliant actors.

Overall, I like the background info on the tablet but it made me wish for a TV show spinoff starring a kooky off-the-wall librarian museum curator and his 3 apprentices.

Final Score: 2.5

Mr. Peabody & Sherman – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2014 film Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Story

Less of a consistent story and more of a series of vignettes, usually ending in a pun with more than a few fart/poop jokes.

The way it was tied in at the end was clever and overall it was inoffensive, if juvenile.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main three characters had growth and a little depth despite themselves. I’m personally sick of the bully actually secretly likes the victim trope; it feels like setting up kids for abusive relationships.

The rest of the characters didn’t even try to be historically accurate and once you get over that, it’s cute.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I like puns and wordplay so the quips at the end, and sometimes middle, of the sketches were enjoyable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful and quite well animated. Beautiful landscapes and clever use of framing.

The music was epic enough to tie the sketches together into some sort of coherent whole.

Score: 1

Fun

I felt the movie dragged a little at the beginning and the sketches were a little too silly even for me. Once the plot started to kick in midway I started having more fun.

Score: 0.5

Overall

It felt like there was more thought given to the wordplay than the characters or plot. Unfortunately characters and plot will stick with me.

It was a cute and fun movie, but didn’t have much substance.

Final Score: 3 stars

Over the Moon – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Over the Moon.

Story

This has all the elements of a wonderful Doorway-style story. (Doorways stories are about youths that find a method of travelling to a fantastic world. Think Alice or Dorothy.) The near-Pixar style sadness at the beginning and the Olaf clone are well done and don’t feel trope-y.

Unfortunately the concept is prettier than the story, and once they reach the moon, the story is disjointed and thin, giving too much room to world building and action.

The ending and the moral are heavy handed and uninspired.

Score: 0

Characters

The kids were interesting and realistic for an animation. It’s great to show a character that is into myth and STEM equally, something that isn’t explored enough. I didn’t really like the whole, “I have a super power” story line, since it was done for cheap laughs and a non-funny gag.

The animal sidekicks are plenty and cute, never detracting from the story or getting too annoying.

The woman on the moon was supposed to feel mythological, like dealing with a god or magic power. She came off more as whiny, entitled, and not too bright. Less like a force of nature and more like a toddler.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was okay. It served its purpose but compared to the complexity of other animated movies I felt like it was a little simplistic. The word humour was well done and the sassyness of the kids was a mirror of reality.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Pearl has now, after two movies, established itself as a studio that can do quality animation. This movie is stunningly beautiful. The detail, lighting, and cinematography are all beyond anything anyone else is doing outside of top tier Disney and Pixar.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think making this a musical was the wrong choice. I think it detracted from the emotion and story. The music was however very good, catchy, and insightful.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was a lot of fun to watch. My kids were enthralled, my wife and I cried, and I still have some of the songs stuck in my head.

Score: 1

Overall

Stunningly beautiful with a mediocre story. The movie could have been so much better, but is still a lot of fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 2012 movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Story

Journey 1

The movie adheres really closely to the original novel. I’m impressed that they were able to create a world where the book exists and then manage to follow almost exactly the same plot.

I’m impressed at the funeral scene where they spent the time to let the two male characters grieve and cry on camera. It’s not often you see men show emotions.

I like that they made the guide a woman and made her hyper competent, but I could have done without the awkward love story.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The movie doesn’t follow the story line of the book but that’s probably a good thing. The code breaking at the beginning and the diverse cast is awesome. I found the movie lagged a little as they traipsed around the island from one set piece to another.

The emotion in this one felt a little stilted compared to the first. The “pecs” talk was awkward until the berry part.

It’s a very linear movie without much surprise.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Journey 1

There are three characters in the movie. The dorky scientist that morphs into an action hero, the scared kid who goes on an adventure, and the beautiful and competent mountain guide with daddy issues. The movie spends very little time on any development for the characters, even forgetting the scientists awkwardness mid-movie in order to have him punching things and ripping off his sleeves. They are static but not offensive or flat.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The sullen kid became a sullen teen. The rest of the cast is entertaining if borderline annoying. The Rock infuses his character with enough charisma to make him likeable as does Michael Caine.

Vanessa Hudgens is great but has no real reason to fall for the charmless main hero. Luis Guzmán’s character is absolutely fantastic, funny and relatable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Journey 1

The banter between the three characters ranges from dumb to entertaining. Thankfully there’s a lot more quips than awkward flirting.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The dialogue between the love interests is stilted and awkward, hopefully on purpose, same with the dialogue overall. Other than a few good lines it was pretty bad.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Journey 1

This movie was designed to be shown in 3D in the height of 3D stupidity. To the point where they added extra gags just for the effect. I hate that. The technology and special effects should always work for the story not the other way around. Despite that, the special effects were passable and the scenery was cool.

The music was utterly forgettable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The special effects are enhanced and take much too much time from the meagre story. (I sound like a grumpy critic.) It’s pretty, but not great. Again, the 3D for 3D’s sake is tiresome.

The soundtrack is meh, nothing exciting. I enjoyed the songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Journey 1

I like the book, I liked the old movie from the 50’s, and I had fun with this one. There’s thrills and adventure throughout along with two very pretty leads. I also enjoyed how much my daughter got into the film and reacted to the young boy’s perils.

Score: 1

Journey 2

I’m not as big a fan of the books this was based on. I liked Treasure Island, hated Gulliver’s Travels, and was indifferent towards Mysterious Island. There were a lot of exciting moments but the fun was in the, rarer, character interactions.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Journey 1

This is a fun, easy, and exciting movie. Not the greatest and maybe a little forgettable but fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Journey 2

There was too much time spent of visual gags and action set pieces when this sort of story is supposed to showcase the characters in between. The action often replaces character development instead of accelerating it.

Overall it was fun, but lacked substance.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5


S.M. Carrière and I discussed and reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1958 on the Night at the Round Table. Have a look here:

Bill & Ted Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1989 movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the 1991 movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and the 2020 movie Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Story

Excellent Adventure

This story is dated in so many ways but still manages to be fantastic at the end. I’m torn between the poor pacing, homophobia, and sexism; and the fantastic message of love and peace.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

The same message resounds through the second movie as in the first, but again there’s more sexism, homophobia, and transphobia to make things awkward. Again the ending is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The same message of unity and love are sown throughout this movie like the others but with a little more maturity. The twist is predictable but getting there wasn’t. There was none of the previous movies’ sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, but there was a little bit of an awkward fat joke. (nothing compared to Avengers Endgame)

Score: 0.5

Characters

Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted are well meaning, mostly kind, but so foolish. They have fantastic vocabularies but they really don’t seem to follow everything going on. They are the personification of the slacker. There was an extremely homophobic joke that was out of character and pretty jarring.

The rest of the characters are a wonderful mix of what-if historical characters showed up in 1988.

Unfortunately the women are all pretty useless.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Once again we get Bill and Ted as sweet, mostly, caring, and pretty fools. They graduated high school and got jobs at the mall.

The evil people are all very much evil and totalitarian. It’s an interesting switch to see the rebels be the ones who want to be controlled.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

This is the saddest and the most relatable version of Bill and Ted. They are broken by the weight of their own destiny but still trying anyway.

The introduction of the daughters was great. They are the generation that grew up with music-obsessed slackers. They were both believable and perfect. Both actors managed to mimic the original Bill and Ted’s movements and mannerisms better than the original actors did.

I’m happy they gave the princesses both more story and more screen time.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Excellent Adventure

The dialogue is actually impressively clever. They bypass time travel confusion really well and do really well with making their characters sound unique. It’s endlessly quotable in the way only 80’s movies can be.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Station! The dialogue doesn’t seem quite as special the second time, but there are some fantastic lines. The time travel battle at the end and speech is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

It’s hard to judge the dialogue of this one compared to the others. It’s a lot of self-referential jokes and quips but there’s some interesting bit in there too. I like the consistency in speech patterns and then impressive impersonations of famous musicians.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Excellent Adventure

The production value on this was fantastic, making each time period look authentic (in an 80’s high school curriculum sort of way).

The music was perfect for the movie and really enjoyable.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

The nature of them going to hell and heaven make so that everything in this movie is more stylized and a little darker.

The music was okay but not excellent.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The special effects were updated and beautiful, the makeup work was fantastic, and everything worked towards the story. The locations were authentic and the shots were well thought out.

The nature of the final twist means that the music is less important than the message, but despite that there’s some fantastic pieces. Especially between the historical figures.

Score: 1

Fun

Excellent Adventure

Despite a little cringe and a few really awkward moments the movie is pure fun.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

There’s some cringe and a few parts that I think drag but overall the movie is a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Face the Music

For both nostalgic reasons and because it was well written with little to no cringe, this was a lot of fun. It kept the entire family entertained and watching.

Score: 1

Overall

Excellent Adventure

The movie is dated but still really heartwarming. They really want to push the love and peace message and like Bill and Ted themselves they stumble a few times along the way.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Bogus Journey

Like the first movie, it is dated but overall positive. It manages to capture the optimism of the first despite the darker tone.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Face the Music

The movie manages to pay homage to the first two while surpassing them in fun and quality. Definitely my favourite of the series.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Feel the Beat – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Feel the Beat.

Story

Other than a few little surprises this movie is a sports comeback by the numbers. If you know the type of movie, you’ll know what happens. There’s some fun dances along the way and a few good cheese jokes.

The script could have been tighter. There was a character arc that seemed to be completely forgotten after set-up and a few missed opportunities for inspiring the main character to have fun with dance. Both of which could have been fixed with short scenes.

There was one scene that was completely unnecessary and felt forced where the dads get into a fight with the rivals dads. It felt like the film equivalent of saying the toxic, “Yes, they like dance and are supportive, but they’re not gay.”

Watching this with a family that has danced informed me that the fact that the characters came up with new dances for each stage of the competition is unrealistic. I understand why they did it but it’s a little grating to have it treated like a series of concerts instead of dance.

Score: 0

Characters

The main character is utterly despicable to start and slowly gets better. The kids are pathetic and useless but slowly get better. The dad does the dad thing really well. And the gay best friend is fabulous. Oh and the love interest is pretty and pining.

All these characters we’ve seen before. They’re comfortable to the point of being boring. Thankfully the attention they missed in tightening the story was spent in making the characters feel like they had their own lives, motivations, and interests. No one was a cardboard cut-out and the actors brought a warmth to even the blandest character.

I was impressed that even though the main character was a jerk, she never mocked anyone’s appearance, disability, or ethnicity. The diversity in the dancers was great and motivated the characters. It was nice to see a dancer who was deaf and treated the same as the others.

The dance dads in the movie were extra awesome and other than the dumb fight, I like how accepting and supportive they were. Same with the town.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Ranging from cringe-y cheesy to sweet and funny. The movie dialogue was best when it wasn’t trying to be sappy or important.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

There were some fantastic scenes outdoors and the dances were shot really well. It’s always impressive to me how Toronto can look like Wisconsin and New York at the same time.

The music was ok. The pieces chosen for the dances were fun and not overdone.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Once we were over the part where the main character is a total dick, I started to enjoy myself. I had told my family they could stop it if they were bored or annoyed but I think I would have had a mini riot if I had stopped it.

Watching it with dancers and a 3 year old was a good choice. They enjoyed it and there was an impromptu ballet class after.

Score: 1

Overall

The story isn’t anything new, the characters are fun, and the rest was enjoyable. If you like sports movies or love dance you’ll enjoy this one.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5