“Leap!” (aka “Ballerina”) stars Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mel Brooks, and Kate McKinnon. Releasing in North America on August 25, 2017, the film is about an orphan girl who travels to Paris with her best friend to capture her dream of being a ballerina.
The film is directed by Éric Summer and Éric Warin. It is considered a 2016 release since it was released first in France on December 14, 2016, but in this case, I will classify it as a 2017 release. We’re nearing the end of the summer movie season and we already got another animated family film heading our way. This weekend, I took the opportunity to catch a special early screening of the film before it hits theaters next weekend. Since this is an early review, I will do my best not to give out any spoilers in case you want to see it for yourself.
After experiencing a couple of animated features that involve anthropomorphic emojis and a bunch of park animals, it’s nice to see something that actually involves human characters and their quest to fulfill their dreams. Now, clearly, this is the type of story that’s been done before. A character dreams of being something and they set off to claim that dream while facing some tough obstacles along the way. The way they tell this story falls into the “average” category, mostly because of its usual cliches, character development, and its predictability. However, out of all of the average animated films I’ve seen this year, such as Rock Dog, I happened to enjoy this one the most. Sure, the story and the characters weren’t nearly as memorable as the ones that are from Disney and Pixar, but I think what made it stand out compared to the other average animated films is that while it offered a simple, by-the-numbers story that might please the little ones, it had a good amount of tolerance for some of the adults as well. The American version of the film offers a decent cast that includes Elle Fanning as Félicie, Nat Wolff as Victor, Félicie’s best friend, Carly Rae Jepsen as Odette, and Kate McKinnon. Most of the time, they did a nice job voicing their respective characters, although there were a couple of moments where they sounded a bit flat. The animation in the film was also pretty good, mostly the ballet sequences. During the parts where the characters aren’t dancing to ballet, the animation just looks nice. It’s not great, it’s not bad, it’s just nice to look at. Interesting fact about how they animate the dance sequences: The animators used key frame animation to translate the choreography of the star dancers, Aurélie Dupont and Jérémie Bélingard, into the film. I think those who are into ballet would be impressed with how the filmmakers animate the ballet moves. Like I said before, the film has its usual, yet supportive, theme of chasing your dreams, which is still relevant to this day, even though the substance is very straightforward and mild for the strong-minded animation fanatics.
Overall, the story alone stumbled a few times during its performance, but “Leap!” manages to keep itself going in order to deliver a remarkable finish. Despite its cliched substance and its troublesome development between the characters, the film offered a decent voice cast, some nice animation, and its relatable themes to provide a late summer treat for families. This is by far the most tolerable average animated film I’ve seen this year, although My Little Pony might take that spot away from it when it arrives in October. I highly doubt it, but we’ll see. “Leap!” will arrive in theaters next weekend, so if you’re already tired of seeing the minions, the emojis, or the furry little animals, this one’s worth checking out, and remember, never give up on your dreams.