World's Best (2023)

World's Best (2023)

A surprisingly thoughtful coming-of-age rap musical with a strong sense of humor



Canada, United States of America
Comedy, Family, Music
Chris River, Christopher Jackson, Dorian Giordano
101 min

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Finally, Lin-Manuel Miranda's monopoly on kid-friendly Disney hip hop has been broken.

What it's about

Middle school math whiz Prim Patel begins to explore hip hop after learning of his late dad's reputation as a charismatic rapper.

The take

Much sweeter and much more bittersweet than one might expect, World's Best does some deceptively clever things with its major themes of math and rap. Somehow, this pre-teen coming-of-age story finds a way to play with preconceived notions of equations always resulting in certain answers, and of modern hip hop being all about swagger and status. Unsurprisingly (or maybe disappointingly for some), the film ultimately touches on grief and loss, which an increasing number of Disney films have been doing as of late. But World's Best keeps itself fresh through its sincere, energetic tone, colorful production design, and spirited performances by Utkarsh Ambudkar and the young Manny Magnus. So even when the rapping gets corny (which it does more often than it should), the spirit behind it is so endearing that it's hard to be mad.

What stands out

Manny Magnus is a great find—a multi-talented child actor who isn't just an enthusiastic performer, but a naturally skilled comedic actor who can hold a verbal rhythm too. Sometimes delivery can be just as crucial as lyricism and flow in hip hop, and Magnus is able to sell even the most jumbled turn of phrase with an excitement of, well, a kid who's just discovered that rap music runs in his family. There are a handful of fun hip hop numbers here, with both Magnus and Utkarsh Ambudkar doing their best work with the motivational "Til I Find a Way."

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