It’s always encouraging to come across films that encourage kids to pursue their dreams, to make the odd feel included. You Can Tutu is one of those films, a simple, family-friendly film that for the most part, achieves what it sets out to do.
12 year old Tallulah “Tutu” Marlow (Lily O’Regan) has just moved to a new neighborhood in London with her single dad Dan (Stuart Manning). Born with a penchant for dancing, Tutu was never one for blending in with the crowd, but at Best Pointe Ballet School, sticks out like a sore thumb with her black leotard and immediately draws the ire of fearsome head Tabitha (Amanda Holt) and the other competitive girls in her class. But through a series of fortunate events and help from her friends and family, Tutu will overcome these prejudices to succeed as a young aspiring ballerina.
You Can Tutu has bold aspirations, but is bogged down by a script that is mired in cliches and improbable turns of events. The burgeoning romance between Dan and Kat is largely unnecessary, and reads with saccharine-sweet romantic truisms. The initially vindictive and dismissive Tabitha does a complete 180 degree turn after suspending Tutu for ruining a performance with her divergence from the choreography. Tutu’s friends are defined by a single trait each – glasses-wearing Rosily (Zahra Hassan Malik) is defined purely on her short-sightedness alone (which is hard to believe when said glasses lack lenses), while spelling bee champ Mannie (Jeanettsy Enriquez Borges) borders on annoying with the way she decides to literally sing and spell words as simple as B-R-E-A-T-H-E out loud for no apparent reason, before abandoning the group at the last minute to pursue a singing career on the West End. Tutu herself, as the main character, is one parents should be wary of their child attempting to emulate – one should encourage creativity, but when she can’t even follow said choreography when explicitly told to do so by the school of her choice it’s hard to really feel like she deserves the praise she receives in the film’s flawed logic.
That being said, if you can look past the plot holes and wooden acting from the child cast, it’s entirely possible to appreciate You Can Tutu for what it is. The adult cast absolutely nails their one note characters, with Rosina Carbone gleefully playing up her role as an overachieving mum and milking the role for what it’s worth, while Collette Cooper is perfectly cast as competition judge Judy, the very image of a classic, ageless diva. But the most praise of all goes to the skill and poise displayed by each and every dancer, sourced from the London Children’s Ballet. James Brown’s camerawork manages to capture their well-rehearsed footwork and choreography, and every time the shot cuts to a dance sequence, you can rest assured it’ll be a scene that properly shows off what these girls are capable of. For a film whose primary purpose is to inspired young girls and show off ballet as an art form, You Can Tutu thankfully, gets this just right, and makes for a spectacular climax in the ballet finals to round off the entire film, a definite saving grace for an otherwise forgettable family friendly film best left for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
You Can Tutu is available to watch on Digital Download from 31st July