Pass the Popcorn: Review of the MTV Movie ‘Turn the Beat Around’

Let me state this up front so that there is no misunderstanding between us. MTV’s new made-for-television movie, Turn the Beat Around (premiering Friday, February 26, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific) has a disco soundtrack.

Okay, I hear you. You think disco sucks. It makes your ears bleed. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Like I said, it has a “disco soundtrack”.  And yes, the main character Zoe, (played by So You Think You Can Dance – Canada contestant Romina D’Ugo) is a big fan of the musical genre (Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that). Still, you shouldn’t stop reading. I have a few things I want to say.

First, let me tell you about the movie.

Zoe, our heroine, is an aspiring dancer who dreams of stardom while working her day job at her stepfather’s flooring store. Flashbacks from Flashdance come to mind as Zoe dances with her partner, a broom, to Kristinia DeBarge’s  “Goodbye” video which plays on the store’s television set. (Why is there a televsion set in a store that sells floor covering?…Focus, Carla, focus. )

Her stepfather, a stern, practical man, who doesn’t take kindly to dreamers, has tired of Zoe’s constant absences but does agree, after much prodding, to give her time off to go to an open call for a Pop/R&B singer Jason Derulo’s music video.  Her mom, we learn at dinner that night, also isn’t too keen on Zoe’s ambitions for reasons we learn later in the movie.

Later Zoe goes to visit her boyfriend, dancer and perpetual pessimist, Chris (Adam Taylor Brooks) at his Melrose Place-like apartment complex. It’s here where we meet their dancer friends, a DJ named Steph (Jennifer Miller) and the video’s choreographer, a cold one by the name of Malika (Brooklyn Sudano, a.k.a Donna Summer’s daughter — for real).

The next day at the auditions, Zoe, felled by an unauthorized neck roll, doesn’t get the part. But her boyfriend Chris does. As she’s leaving the studio’s parking lot, Malika tells Zoe that she is perhaps more suited to be a choreographer than a dancer. Zoe is delighted.

That evening, Zoe and Chris go to visit the club where Steph is DJing. (Is that a word? It is now.) Unable to get past the velvet ropes, Steph helps the two to sneak in through the back entrance.

It’s in the club where Zoe meets Michael (David Giuntoli), the wealthy owner, and suggests that his new club, which he is currently renovating, have a disco theme…Michael visits Zoe at the flooring store (you should be used to these sharp left turns from me by now) and offers her a job…

I must stop before I say too much.

I will say this. It gets quite messy. It’s not a love triangle, more like a love square.  Think: MTV’s Taking the Stage for the grown and sexy.  Or if Flashdance and Fame had a baby.

So, I guess you want to know the verdict.  Is it a great movie? No. Good movie?  Pretty good. I could sit here and pick it apart. Yes, I think Brooklyn Sudano as Malika could have had a bigger, more substantive role. I like my villains more villainous.

As someone who loves dance and who watches America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance (many of the actors in this movie appeared on the Canadian version), I would have loved to have seen more dance sequences. And I couldn’t quite keep up with characters’ names. (A simple “Hey, so and so” during the initial scenes in which they appear would have helped)…Here I go doing what I said I wouldn’t (or at least I implied that I wouldn’t).

Final Words:  Disco lovers, you will get a kick out hearing the music as well as enjoy the performance of the main character, Zoe.  And those of you who think disco sucks, the movie is about more than the music.


2 thoughts on “Pass the Popcorn: Review of the MTV Movie ‘Turn the Beat Around’

  1. Hi there!

    I thought the movie was great! Not a “Great Movie!” but, I loved the psychological motivations for making the movie; great moral sense, bringing a lovely dancer from being satisfied with dysfunction, into a relationship with a good guy for once, who allows Zoe to learn a few difficult life lessons, then helps her to see there are good things to look for, so long as one stays positive, and quickly runs from cynicism seen in a lover, especially when they also want to own you in a relationship.

    Great (although sparse) dance scenes, make you want to see more; however, even the dances most worked on for the new disco opening night, is lit more for those who are shy movers on the dance floor, than for audiences who want to see the dancing up front and refreshing! I’ve seen it a few times, but really, only to look at Zoe again (she is quite a lovely young woman), and watch as Michael shows her not all guys have the very same agenda when a lovely lady appears in their lives.

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