The Leap! Movie Goes for the Familiar and Sticks its Landing

In Leap!, redhead Félicie (Elle Fanning) and her besotted bestie Victor (Nat Wolff) are lowly orphans in rural Brittany, France. Times are tough – it’s 120 years before the worldwide web and social media – so all they can do is dream. Félicie wants nothing more than to go to Paris and dance the ballet, while Victor needs to break free so he can be greatest inventor the world has ever known.

In a leap of faith, the ambitious 12-year-olds run away from the orphanage and toward their passions. They get to Paris after a few bumps in the road, but nothing can prepare them for the overwhelming challenges that face them. Victor and Félicie get separated, and while he’s ferried away, she’s forced to find the dance academy on her own. While she’s not a bad kid, she is a desperate one: Félicie fibs, pretending to be the child of a wealthy family in order to gain admittance to the prestigious and competitive Opera Ballet School in Paris.

With no professional training, Félicie quickly learns that talent alone is not enough to overcome the conniving ways of her fellow classmates, led by the crafty Camille Le Haut (Maddie Ziegler) and her ruthless stage mother Régine (Kate McKinnon). Determined to succeed and dance the prestigious Nutcracker – but don’t fret, kiddoes; the soundtrack has more Demi Lovato than Tchaikovsky – Félicie finds her mentor in the tough and mysterious school custodian, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen). Eventually Victor finds his way back to dry land, becomes an apprentice to Gustave Eiffel, and is reunited with Félicie, only to find that he has a rival for her affections – ballet superstar, Rudy (Tamir Kapelian). And if all that wasn’t enough, the kids are caught and sent back to the orphanage! (But of course, not for long – as the film’s tagline says, “Never give up on your dreams.”)

While there is music, Leap! is (thankfully) not a musical. There are some dazzling action sequences, ranging from a spirited “dance-off” to a chase scene through the scaffolding of the Statue of Liberty as it’s being prepared for its trip to America. There are some gripping scenes involving the one and only possession she has from her mother – a music box with a ballerina that spins – and its destruction at the hands of a bully and then its loving reconstruction by Victor. The animation style is modern, yet warm.

Leap! is an absolutely delightful, fun, and at times heartbreaking film that’s perfect for girls. (Boys may like it, too – Victor is a good character.) While it is perhaps cliché that she wants to dance and that he wants to invent, the qualities do seem true to the characters. The interpersonal relationships between the females, while of course heightened for drama and comedy, ring true enough. Félicie is surprisingly complex considering the cartoon backdrop. Definitely worth a look for kids of all ages.

Will you watch Leap! with the kids? What are some animated films you’re looking forward to watching this year? Share with us!

Visit Common Sense Media for more info on this movie’s appropriateness for your child.

Tags : movies   film   animated movies   

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