Movie Review: Leap!
Leap! is the first theatrical release from Mizchief, the animated film branch of The Weinstein Company. Known as Ballerina in France and other European countries, it follows two young orphans who escape their orphanage to pursue their dreams. Elle Fanning voices the main character, Félicie, and Nat Wolff voices her best friend, Victor. The rest of the voice cast is rounded out by Carly Rae Jepsen, Maddie Ziegler, Kate McKinnon, and Mel Brooks.
The film appears to be set around the 1880’s and revolves around two best friends who reside in an orphanage. Félicie (Fanning) and Victor (Wolff) both dream of running away to Paris, which they successfully do within the first act of the film. Once they arrive in Paris, they are inadvertently separated. Victor dreams of becoming an inventor and soon finds himself in a position that could help that dream become a reality. Félicie seeks out the Paris Opera Ballet, which she recognizes from part of a postcard that Victor had shown her. Initially she is kicked out by the caretaker, who accuses her of being a thief. However, Félicie soon befriends the cleaning lady, Odette (Jepsen), who also cleans for a popular restaurant owner, Régine Le Haut (McKinnon). Odette allows Félicie to stay with her in return for Félicie’s help while cleaning. When Le Haut’s snobby daughter, Camille (Zeigler), receives an invitation to attend classes at the ballet, though, Félicie poses as her to pursue her dream, which sets this adventure in motion.
So, while the concept of this movie is cute, I feel like it did not quite hit the mark. I’ll admit that maybe I’m just spoiled from a lifetime of watching Disney and Pixar movies, but I had several problems with the film overall. First of all, the marketing of the film implied that it focused on Félicie and Victor’s story, but as the story progressed, Victor became more of a background character. In fact, his character is so goofy and given such substantially less screen time, that he becomes more like a plot device than a meaningful character. In fact, several of the characters were found to be lacking. The character of Régine Le Haut is over-the-top and so ridiculous to the point of pulling one out of the story. While her motivations are clear, they are often a complete overreaction.
With these moments and a lack of character development overall, there are several scenes that just fall flat. It leaves much of the dialogue as rushed or random and not genuine. With that lack of emotional groundwork, there were quite a few moments that should have had more of an impact than they did. Also, while I appreciated the ending, I was a little disappointed with it as well. I’ll avoid more details on the ending, though, to stay out of spoiler territory.
Now, I hate to be completely negative about any movie, so I must say there were some high points. There were some good moments between the characters, and most of those are found between Félicie and Odette. Félicie’s training is a beautiful thing to watch, and the animation for all of the dancing in the film was truly gorgeous. With a personal background in dance, I enjoyed the fluidity and beauty of every pirouette, jeté, and fouetté. I will also add that a lot of the musical choices suited the film well. However, all of these better aspects cannot hide the fact that Leap! is lacking in story and character development, which leaves it feeling mediocre at best. While I’m sure there will be a certain audience that enjoys the film, I suggest that you skip the theater on this one.