Netflix’s newest teen drama “All Together Now” features a strong performance from Auli‘i Cravalho, best known as the voice of Moana in the 2016 Disney film. Unlike movies in which the characters have picture-perfect lives, this film includes a more complex plot line as the protagonist deals with hardships such as poverty, homelessness and familial instability.
The film, directed by Brett Haley, is based on the novel “Sorta Like a Rockstar,” written by Matthew Quirk. In both the film and the book, music is used as a medium to navigate life’s rocky waters while showcasing the importance of friendship to help solve life’s greatest challenges.
Cravalho plays Amber Appleton, a struggling teen whose positive attitude and cheerful personality offers a story of hope despite the many challenges that life throws at her. Attracting fans of other Netflix originals such as “The Kissing Booth” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Cravalho delivers a strong performance that showcases both her acting and singing skills.
Despite Amber and her mom Becky’s (Justina Machado) grim financial and living situation, which includes living on a bus for a period of time, Amber makes the most of her days and holds on to the hope of studying music at her dream school, Carnegie Mellon University. It is this dream that guides her through everyday life that she fills with work and other commitments in the hopes of rising above her current situation.
Amber is a well-rounded teen who gives back to her community in a number of ways including teaching E.S.L classes, volunteering at a retirement home on the weekends and helping out a special needs classmate of hers. She is able to keep her home life separate from the persona she showcases to her friends and teachers at school, but their paths inevitably collide and her loyalty with her mother is tested.
Following a heated argument between Becky and Amber, Amber receives tragic news that will have a lasting effect on her life. After refusing to accept help from others, Amber finally learns the importance of being able to lean on her strong network of friends that she has created through her thoughtfulness and dedication to others.
When Cravalho made her acting debut in Disney’s “Moana,” viewers were offered a first glimpse at her musical talent. She is able to translate this talent to “All Together Now” and use it as a driving force in her determination to break out of her current situation.
Despite a few slow scenes, “All Together Now” is a feel-good movie that showcases the power that music has in uniting people.