Julie and the Phantoms assessment: Netflix bests the Disney Channel at its personal sport

Netflix is making an attempt its hand at each and every style underneath the solar. You need truth courting competitions? Netflix has a display for that. Tacky vacation films? Completely. Interactive choose-your-own-adventure video games? Make a choice from a pile of them. And now, with Julie and the Phantoms, Netflix is embracing the extremely particular subgenre of the Disney Channel Unique Film.

Netflix has indisputably ventured into preteen programming earlier than. Only some months in the past, the extremely acclaimed Child-Sitters’ Membership collection premiered at the platform. However Julie and the Phantoms’ 10-episode first season extra particularly conjures up Disney Channel Unique classics like Hannah Montana, Top College Musical, and Shake It Up. Is it as a result of Disney Channel auteur Kenny Ortega is at the back of the display? Is it the glittery costumes and extravagant musical sequences? Or the teens doing grandiose issues that almost all teenagers more than likely couldn’t do?

The whole thing concerning the first trailer, for higher or for worse, spells out Disney Channel Unique. In accordance with a Brazilian display of the similar title, Julie and the Phantoms’ first season proves Netflix can do wacky youngster hijinks blended with supernatural components — plus over-the-top moments infused with a real emotional core.

[Ed. Note: This review contains slight spoilers for the first season of Julie and the Phantoms.]

the boy band about to chow down on some hot dogs

Picture: Eike Schroter/Netflix

The display follows Julie (Madison Reyes), a once-aspiring musician who’s struggling somewhat of an inventive block after her mom’s demise. Whilst cleansing out her mom’s outdated studio, she by chance units the ghostly spirits of a boy band unfastened. Handiest Julie can see the 3 hunky ghosts (Charlie Gillespie as lead singer Luke, Owen Joyner as soft-hearted drummer Alex, and Jeremy Shada as dopey guitarist Reggie) — however all of them briefly uncover that once they all play in combination, the remainder of the sector can see the men. So naturally, Julie and the men shape a band. However as Julie struggles with faculty drama and her personal swaying self belief, the men be informed extra about what it manner to be lifeless, as they are trying to determine what they even need out in their afterlives.

On the subject of drama in class, Julie and the Phantoms appears like a rehash of each and every Disney Channel sitcom since Lizzie McGuire: there’s a median common lady who wears numerous red and hates Julie for no actual reason why, and a adorable common boy who simply occurs to be courting that imply lady. The antagonist, Carrie, isn’t given a lot nuance or persona past “wealthy lady along with her initials bedazzled on the whole thing,” and whilst actress Savannah Lee Might offers her all, all the personality appears like a shallow imitation of the nice Queen Bees who got here earlier than her, particularly Top College Musical’s Sharpay Evans. There are hints that there’s one thing extra to her, a deeper warfare between her and Julie, however the first season by no means makes use of Carrie for the rest but even so snarky feedback.

The excellent news is that whilst Carrie’s insistence on undermining Julie’s musical occupation does absorb a good quantity of the plot’s bandwidth, the non-ghostly drama is some distance from shallow. The explanation Julie is suffering to accomplish tune is as a result of she’s nonetheless grieving for her mom. The clashes she has along with her father, brother, and aunt stem from this grief, however all of them obviously love and care about one some other. One of the vital emotional beats are giant, sweeping, and borderline tacky, nevertheless it all comes off in a very hot, feel-good approach. The excessive power and emotion is a characteristic of the style, now not a computer virus. The musical sequences have a tendency to be in a similar fashion grandiose in some way that exceeds the funds and making plans talents of a high-school pupil, however hello, that’s what we’re right here for! Deliver at the glitter, the fabulous costumes, the spectacular choreography!

mean girl carrie in all pink

Symbol: Netflix

However the display carves its personal trail and shines brightest when it focuses now not on existence, however the afterlife. It’s now not simply Julie working out what demise manner the techniques of the afterlife — Luke, Alex, and Reggie had no thought they’d been lifeless for 25 years. The 4 characters determine the technicalities of ghosts in combination, with some hilarious scenes the place Luke stages out and in of Julie’s fridge and Alex runs down the streets of Hollywood, thru unsuspecting bystanders. Julie creates an elaborate lie to provide an explanation for her mysterious bandmates — they’re musicians from Sweden, in order that they name in and challenge their performances by way of holograms, duh! She figures out neat techniques to get round the entire ghost factor, pulling out her telephone when speaking to Luke in class, so it doesn’t appear to be she’s speaking to herself.

The ghosts themselves are a loveable, laughable trio, each and every with their very own amusing little quirks. The friendship between the 3 of them — and in the end with Julie — is healthy and supportive. In the end, the ghosts meet some other lifeless teen, skater Willie (Booboo Stewart) who offers them some extra perception on their ghostly standing, inviting them to a mysterious nightclub. Cheyenne Jackson performs Caleb, the landlord of stated haunted nightclub, the place ghosts birthday celebration and carry out for all eternity. He wears a depressing cape and height hat, as a result of hello, for those who owned a haunted nightclub, wouldn’t you totally indulge within the aesthetic?

The collection isn’t all costumes and function, despite the fact that. What in point of fact offers Julie and the Phantoms an additional oomph is how it interrogates the not-so-happy sides of being lifeless. The entire boys will have to care for the truth that their households have moved on with out them, one thing that hits extra-hard when it’s published that all of them left their oldsters on beautiful dangerous phrases. It’s a neat parallel to Julie’s personal grief: she’s somewhat annoyed that as an alternative of her mom coming again to lend a hand her, she will get those 3 random boys. However in time, all of them be informed from one some other and lend a hand each and every different develop, thru over-the-top musical sequences, odd quantities of glitter, and wacky supernatural hijinks. Netflix’s take at the Disney Channel Unique sitcom works, the use of all of the subgenre’s excessive issues to weave an incredibly emotional tale.

Julie and the Phantoms is now streaming on Netflix.

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