Turn Up Charlie — 3.5 Gavels 51% Rotten Tomatoes

Did you like Arnold Schwarzenegger as an out-of-place undercover cop in Kindergarten Cop? Or, maybe you preferred Tommy Lee Jones as an out-of-his-element undercover cop protecting college cheerleaders in Man of the House? Well, perhaps Dwayne Johnson as a minor league hockey player helping the family of his girlfriend as an out-of-this-world Tooth Fairy was your cup of tea. The point is that Turn Up Charlie has been done before. Why? Because it works.

Idris Elba is a big, strong, good-looking near-narcissist who should be the last guy watching over your 11 year-old. Even though he has little in common with the girl, the bond is sweet and real. The critics’ summary says “those looking for a breezy sitcom starring the perennially cool Idris Elba may find themselves tapping along to its good natured beats.” I agree and give this Netflix show 3.5 Gavels but it receives only a 51% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a very good 91% Audience score.


Charlie is a one-hit wonder (back in the late 90’s) who now lives with his aunt. His best buddy from high school is now an actor with a wife who is a mega-DJ. When they offer him a job, Charlie thinks it may help jump-start his sagging career. Except the job is to watch their precocious daughter (Gabrielle) who is about to experience school life for the first time. Gabby doesn’t want a “manny.” She wants her parents to spend more time with her. Torn between parenting and careers, Gabby needs someone to be there for her. Who will step up?

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As a washed-up 40-something DJ known for drinking and carousing, Idris Elba is perfect as Charlie. He has good comedic timing and a heart of gold, even when he goes off the rails. Frankie Hervey is the cute kid, Gabrielle, with little bio to her name. If this is her first gig, she did well. Piper Perabo is her concerned mom, Sara, conflicted but driven to work, but also somewhat attracted to Charlie. Gabs’ father is JJ Feild, probably the weakest of the cast. Angela Griffin as the manager and Jocelyn Jee Esien as the aunt are two wonderfully funny characters who need more screen time.

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Final Thoughts

First, recognize that racy, foul language abounds. Second, given that Charlie and Sara are both DJ’s, get off that couch and dance. Also, as Turn Up Charlie is filmed in London and Ibiza, catch a few sights you may not have seen before. Camden Town in London is one of the can’t miss things to do when visiting. For those who say Idris Elba is “a little lost,” Charlie has been in the wilderness for 20 plus years. A perennial bachelor, Charlie knows nothing about spoiled little girls. Charlie could not imagine that he would find himself though Gabs, and vice versa. It’s a good thing Charlie turns up, for both of them. And, it’s a good, light, summer (it was actually released March 2019) comedy for the rest of us!

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