Gotta Kick It Up!

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Gotta Kick It Up! Movie Poster Image
Generic Disney teen dance drama fails to find its beat.
  • NR
  • 2002
  • 78 minutes

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive messages.

Educational Value

Audiences may learn something about Latinx culture -- including some Spanish phrases -- along with some dance routines.

Positive Messages

The movie teaches the importance of following your heart and working hard to achieve your dreams. Other themes include teamwork, honesty, and being yourself.

Positive Role Models

The members of the female Latina dance team go from teasing each other and being disconnected to learning to support each other and working together. At one point they lie to the adults around them and enter a competition alone, but later understand it was wrong. The dance coach, Miss Bartlett, goes on a journey to acknowledge her own past failures in order to better support and encourage the team.

Violence & Scariness

There is a mild instance of bullying when a character is bumped into and has their snack stamped on. Occasional teasing within the team -- but none are particularly aggressive.

Sexy Stuff

Some teen romance that includes hand-holding and touching on the face, but nothing overtly sexual. The term "hot" is used on a few occasions to refer to characters being sexually attractive.


No strong language. Occasional derogatory terms such as "dumb" and "loser."


Money is mentioned in passing reference to a lack of budget for dance uniforms and the team needing to fundraise to get to the Nationals. But it is never an overriding issue.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gotta Kick It Up! is a Disney teen sports drama based on the true story about a Latina female school dance team and their journey toward success. There are a few mild instances of teasing and bullying, but no violence, strong language, or overtly sexual references. The movie celebrates the different cultural backgrounds of the students -- including a pre-Ugly Betty America Ferrera -- and encourages notions of being yourself and celebrating what makes you special. The dance coach, Miss Bartlett (Susan Egan), becomes a strong role model toward the end of the film. Together with the students, they work as a team to achieve success. Though there are hurdles, such as lack of funding and support from loved ones, it is an uplifting -- albeit conventional -- movie with some fun ensemble scenes.

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What's the story?

In GOTTA KICK IT UP! wayward teen Daisy (Camille Guaty) joins the school dance team in order to escape detention. As the students (including a young America Ferrera) gradually put their differences aside and enjoy the camaraderie of working together, they don't understand why their dance coach, Miss Bartlett (Susan Egan), thinks they are not ready to compete. That is, until a bonding moment between Miss Bartlett and an unexpectedly talented Daisy reveals painful memories of failure from the coach's past and an unacknowledged drive in her student that results in the whole team coming together with a new faith and confidence that might just see them make it to the Nationals.

Is it any good?

While this movie is innocent and ultimately uplifting, there is a clunky paint-by-numbers feel to the way it hits all the predictable plot points and emotional notes. Everything, from the slightly stilted acting and the underdeveloped ensemble characters to the lack of originality, keeps Gotta Kick It Up! from being the movie it could have been -- a spirited, feel-good story with an empowering message that really hits the beats.

Guaty does a decent job as Daisy, but the troubled teen with a secret passion is such a stock character that she gets lost amid the stereotypes. Some nice moments incorporating the students different cultures into the dance routines and Daisy teaching Miss Bartlett to say, "Yes, I can" in Spanish are sweet and go some way to being inclusive. But unfortunately these are too few and far between in an underwhelming production that no amount of pom-poms and high-kicks can save.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of teamwork as portrayed in Gotta Give It Up! Why is working together as a team such an important character strength to learn? What other movies show characters working together toward a common goal? How can I use media to teach my kid teamwork?

  • How does fear of failure affect the behavior of both the coach and certain team members? Can you think of a time when you were worried about failure? How did you deal with it?

  • The dance team are all from different Latin American backgrounds. Why is it important to see diversity in movies? Would you like to see more? Discover other inspiring movies for Latinx families.

  • Did any characters surprise you during the film? What did they reveal about themselves that was unexpected?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dance

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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