Leap!

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Posted August 24, 2017 by in

Quick Stats

Genre: animation
 
MPAA Rating: PG
 
Actors: Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Carly Rae Jepsen
 
Length: 1 hour 29 minutes
 
Release Date: 8-25-2017
 
Studio: Quad Productions, Main Journey, Caramel Film, et al.
 
 
What We Thought

Leap! finds the sweet spot between the pop-culture sensibilities of a Dreamworks production and the sincerity and innocence of a Renaissance Disney feature.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Whether you draw or paint, or write or take pictures, you’re going to love Leap!  The film is about the artist in all of us.  Everyone is a beginner first.  The first painting or poem is probably pretty bad, but with lots of practice and passion for doing what you love doing, you can make the leap from amatuer to professional.
     11-year-old Felicie (voice of Ellie Fanning) wants to be a ballerina.  It’s always been her dream.  However, “You have the energy of a bullet, but the grace of a depressed elephant,” she’s told (twice).  One day, her best friend and aspiring-inventor Victor (voice of Nat Wolff) make their 463rd attempt to escape the orphanage using his latest invention:  a patchwork wing-suit called “chicken wings.”
  After arriving in Paris, the children are separated, and Felicie finds herself alone and penniless.  She makes her way to the Paris Opera Ballet, but is accused of being a thief and thrown out.  However, a kindly cleaner named Odette (Carly Rae Jepen) lets her stay with her at a stately house owned by a cruel restaurateur (Julie Khaner), where a little brat named Camille (Maddie Ziegler) lives, who also to be a ballerina herself.  Camille mistreats Felicie, so when Camille’s invitation to the Ballet arrives, Felicie steals it for herself.
  Leap! finds the sweet spot between the pop-culture sensibilities of a Dreamworks production and the sincerity and innocence of a Renaissance Disney feature.  In fact, it is neither.  The film is the first feature film of L’Atelier Animation, and it’s an impressive debut.  From the way the light hits Victor’s hair to the textures of his tattered clothing, the film is a visual treat for all ages.  Leap! achieves this at a fraction of the budget of a big studio film (the film costs only $30 million, yet leaps over rubbish such as The Emoji Movie).  Nothing “inspires” creativity like budget constraints.  There’s a great scene, captured in bullet time, in which Victor flashes back to how his evening went; disastrously.  But the way he tells it (and he’s not exactly lying), you’d think the night was pure win.
  The story is not about Victor, though.  He’s mere comic relief, and romantic interest for Felicie.  Leap! is her story.  Unabashedly conventional, the film tells a familiar Rising Star story with such wit and charm that it makes you cheer for Felicie, who’s far from perfect.  She steals her invitation and lies about her identity, and gets distracted by a cute boy at the ballet school when practice matters most.  But that’s what I liked about her.  Her flaws are what make her human in a humanist tale about hard work and passion triumphing over all.  You’d never know it from its foreign financing and production, but Leap! is very much an American movie, complete with a Hollywood ending.  4.5 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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