Netflix’s Turn Up Charlie starring Idris Elba charms but can’t keep rhythm

Image Credit: TURN IT UP, CHARLIE, acquired via Netflix Media Center, Nick Wall/Netflix
Image Credit: TURN IT UP, CHARLIE, acquired via Netflix Media Center, Nick Wall/Netflix /

Netflix’s Turn Up Charlie features Idris Elba’s charm but falls short with its storytelling. The DJ turned ‘Manny’ establishes chemistry with costars yet seems to check off key moments in the show.

Idris Elba is an extremely talented man. Actor, DJ, DJ at Coachella, Kickboxer, and just an overall handsome devil. His acting ranges from comedic performances on The Office to donning lavish Nordic costumes in last years mega-hit Avengers: Infinity War. He can basically be the lead man in anything he’d like (maybe even James Bond someday?) but sometimes the creator can get too involved in their project. This is where Turn Up Charlie falters a bit.

The acting between Elba’s Charlie and Frankie Hervey’s Gabriella is great and seems realistic. They play off each other with bullying words, hidden loving sentiment, and sometimes an angry edge. However, the banter between the two is short lived as the series takes Charlie across the world and focuses more on his DJ dreams

The series attempts to dive into a family drama as well with Gabriella’s parents Sara, Piper Perabo, and David, JJ Feild. The direction of the show succeeds here as the tease pairing of Charlie and Sara keeps coming back to the front of the frame while adding in Sara’s unhappiness with her marriage. However, this is overshadowed by the lavish background of foreign summer vacations (as seen in the trailer), huge parties, and even a music festival. The real comedy and drama are buried under these surface-level sights.

When the cover is pulled back though, those sentiments of family, life, or happiness are also just surface level. Don’t mistake the criticism, all these actors turn in great performances. There’s even not much criticism of the writing here, yet these family dramas with comedy mixed in are heavy-handed too frequently. It seems our characters make similar mistakes every few episodes and this, of course, leads to a level of distrust between a family and a friend they don’t truly know.

The role of Gabby is a difficult one to measure. Early in the show, she asks her mother what precocious means, and that’s exactly how she acts throughout. This at times feels clumsy and beaten down into the viewer’s mind. The short times she does show her growth, they are covered in witty banter and nearly no physical showing of it, outside of a few key moments.

Overall, this show has a ton of charm. Not only from Elba but the rest of the cast shines throughout the six episodes. While the show may turn a few off later, it’s still a great way to spend a few hours. Their runtimes are all around 30 minutes which makes them a perfect show to binge through on a weeknight or two.

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