Pros: Idris Elba in an unusual role; child actress Frankie Harvey; jokes in the first four episodes; London Cons: Second half of the series; jokes in the last four episodes; Too many drugs in Turn Up Charlie / “Turn Up Charlie”
Creator Idris Elba, Gary Rich
Starring Idris Elba (Charlie), Piper Perabo (Sarah), JJ Feild (David), Frankie Harvey (Gabriella), Angela Griffin (Astrid), Jocelyn G Esien (Aunt Lydia), Gaz Khan (Del), etc.
Year of release 2019
Charlie Yo is a once-cool but out-of-print DJ who does odd jobs, lives in his aunt’s house and lies to his parents who remain in Nigeria about his successful career in show business. When his childhood friend David, who has become a famous actor, and his wife, and part-time world famous DJ, Sarah, return to London, Charlie finds himself the only one who is able to cope with their ten-year-old daughter. David and Sarah beg Charlie to take on the role of nanny, promising help in working on new sets.
You most likely already know what will happen next. At first, obstinate and dreaming of getting at least a little of her parents’ attention, Gab will resist Charlie’s patronage in every possible way, and then, of course, they will become bosom friends. A sort of Mary Poppins in a modern way, only with DJ sets and drugs instead of music and dance numbers. Again, this is happening in London.
Idris Elba not only starred in this Netflix comedy series, but also served as a producer and writer on the show. The irony here is that the actor wrote the script for himself and about himself. The fact is that Idris Elba (the real name of the actor Idrissa Akuna Elba), in parallel with his acting career, tried himself as a DJ and R&B performer. More precisely, I didn’t even try, but performed very well under the name DJ Big Driis, recording four mini-albums and several singles that were included in the British tops. Elba, despite a fairly busy filming schedule, continues to DJ to this day. For example, in April 2019, he is scheduled to perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California. So Elba knows first-hand about the world of modern music.
Actually, Turn Up Charlie is both a family comedy and a production drama, telling about the attempts of a lost DJ to return to the stage. Perhaps this duality only hurts the series. Turn Up Charlie is essentially two parts. For the first four episodes, we watch a family comedy in which two famous British comedians take part in supporting roles – Jocelyn Gee Esien, who plays the too spontaneous Aunt Lydia, and Gaz Khan, who plays the role of his clingy friend Del. The humor here is purely English, a lot of London and purely London jokes (for example, two people in a London Eye booth is already funny, like empty benches in Greenwich). The first half of the series looks great, and then Charlie takes up his career, starts working on a set with Sarah, forgetting about Gab, and then goes to Ibiza altogether. This part, full of drugs, alcohol and sex and practically devoid of humor, looks much harder. In the last episode, the authors remember that they were filming a family comedy after all, and return Gab and David to the screen, but the magic of the moment has already been destroyed, the series becomes boring.
Idris Elba clearly feels at ease in Turn Up Charlie, which is not surprising, since he plays essentially himself. Of the other actors, I would like to first mention ten-year-old Frankie Harvey, who plays Gabriella; the debut of the young performer turned out to be memorable. As for Piper Perabo (Sarah) and JJ Feild (David), it seems they were taken into the series only because of their external, sometimes downright frightening, resemblance to Emilia Clarke and Tom Hiddleston. However, there is still a certain chemistry between Elba and Perabo; it is not in vain that the characters of the series ask them a question about their relationship.
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As for the quality of the compositions performed by the characters and the realism of the behind-the-scenes of the modern DJ scene shown in the series, it is difficult for the author, who is extremely far from this style of music, to judge this. Bright, loud and sprinkled on top with a thick, thick layer of consciousness-expanding substances. And such an easy attitude towards drugs and alcohol, including in the hands of children, is perhaps another drawback of the series.
Overall, Turn Up Charlie is a simple, sometimes funny, sometimes cute series that, thanks to its short episodes and short duration, can be watched literally in one evening.
Sometimes stupid, sometimes weak, but in some ways a very sweet series about family values and the world of music