Review by Camden Ferrell
Utkarsh Ambudkar has made a name for himself as a character actor in a wide variety of projects, but at his core, he is an accomplished rapper. He’s been able to flex his lyrical and rap abilities in his movies, shows, and even on Broadway, and his new movie is aiming to introduce a new generation of viewers to the wonderful world of hip-hop. World’s Best is a new family film from Disney+ that might suffer from being too conventional and cliched but still has an honest and valuable message for young viewers.
Prem is a young mathematics genius. As he undergoes changes in his life and the burgeoning self-reflection of adolescence, he finds himself focused on his deceased father. He discovers that his dad was a famous underground rapper and immediately finds himself enthralled in the world of hip-hop. He has vivid rap fantasies involving his late father as he tries to go through life and figure out who he is while still accomplishing the many ambitious goals he has. It’s a cute premise that many viewers might be able to relate to in one way or another.
Written by Ambudkar, Jamie King, and Timothy Visentin, it is very safe in the way it tells its story. Even if its premise is imaginative, the writing is predictable and conventional in a way that makes it quite palatable even if it’s not great. The movie hits all the narrative beats you’d expect from a Disney+ movie, and while there are a handful of interesting moments, it doesn’t do much to set itself apart as a unique coming of age story.
The acting in this movie is quite good for a Disney+ original. Led by relative newcomer Manny Magnus, his performance is relatable and quite charismatic despite playing a nerdy, more-reserved character. The real star of the show is undeniably Ambudkar. He always brings a lively energy to his roles, and this is no different. Since this movie deals with rap music, he’s a perfect fit, and he plays a great father figure to Magnus’ character that is quite wholesome to watch.
Even though it is far too conventional and sometimes bland, it has an honest message for young viewers. There is a lot that could be done better with this movie, but it has the purest of intentions. Although it may not have been a movie for me, I won’t fault it for teaching kids to follow their passions and stay true to their dreams and themselves along the way. It’s a noble sophomore attempt from director Roshan Sethi, but I still wish it took more chances with its story and execution to make it more memorable.
World’s Best is a harmless coming of age story that families and young viewers may enjoy. It’s a familiar story that is bolstered by fun performances and a few good hip-hop numbers. It has a great message, but it also falls victim to its adherence to standard storytelling practices. It doesn’t take risks to find a unique voice like its protagonist, and it will likely fade into the ever-growing catalog on Disney+. Until then, this is cute enough to pass the time and entertain young ones if need be.
World’s Best is streaming on Disney+ June 23.