A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that To the Beat! is a generic tale about a dance competition in which 14-year-old girls vie to earn a spot performing in teen idol Chris Trousdale's next music video. The competition is fierce and a little nasty, featuring deliberate cheating, voter payoffs, and low-key psychological warfare. Girls wear skimpy costumes and makeup. The girls' dad died two years before the action begins, leaving them and their mother grieving. Although many of the characters are young teens, this seems designed to appeal to tweens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TO THE BEAT! twins Mia (Brisa Lalich) and Mackie (Laura Krystine) share a close relationship and a passion for dance. For Mia it's tap and for Mackie it's pop. They, along with their mother and older sister, are still suffering from the loss of their father only two years before. When "pop sensation" Chris Trousdale puts out an invitation for dance teams to submit videos to compete for spots performing in his next music video, the girls scream with delight and, while still supporting each other, form separate teams in their respective styles. Across the street in their suburban California neighborhood is another young dancer named Avery (Jayden Bartels), who holds a seemingly deep but completely unexplained grudge against the twins and is bent on beating them and all other competitors at all costs. She enlists friends to pay off social media arbiters to swing the online voting toward her so she can reach the final and triumph over her rivals. Virtue wins in the unsurprising outcome to the contest.
Is it any good?
This dance movie is oddly unsatisfying. Young viewers may not be able to articulate their disappointment, but they will no doubt sense the way To the Beat! sets up an obvious moral dilemma. Cheating, self-absorbed Avery occupies one end of the dishonesty extreme, paying social media influencers $100 to garner votes for her team. Mia and Mackie are honest competitors trying to win through merit. No spoiler alert is needed as viewers will sense the one-dimensionality of the script and its constant signaling that the good guys will win.
The relationships among characters are confusing. No one will fail to notice that there's no real comeuppance for Avery. She loses the contest, but her cheating is never exposed, her parents don't scold her, and her kindly grandmother isn't shocked to learn of her granddaughter's scheming malevolence. The last part is really odd since without the moral reckoning her kindly grandmother could provide, there's otherwise no need for the grandmother character at all. On the other hand, it's entertaining to watch young dancers go through their routines.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how losing a parent affects children. In this case, what kinds of nice things do the three girls do to support their mother during this difficult time?
Avery is a self-absorbed dancer willing to cheat to win the competition. Do you think the ending provides the viewer a satisfying sense that justice has been done? Why or why not?
Why are movies like To the Beat! about dancers so popular? What's the appeal? What's your favorite dance movie?
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