“Tomorrow, Cherie, we’ll be in Paris, and it will be ours!” says Victor (voice of Nat Wolff). “But we’re just kids,” says Felicie (voice of Elle Fanning). “We’re all alone. Was I crazy to think we could do it?” The two are best friends, orphans escaping to Paris from a dreary and isolated orphanage in Brittany where grumpy Monsieur Luteau (voice of Mel Brooks) is the oppressive superintendent. Victor wants to be a great Parisian inventor; Felicie dreams of dancing at the famous Paris Opera. Says Victor, “Which of us will get our dream first?” That’s the setup for this family-friendly animated film, set in France 150 years ago.
Does strict ballet master Merante (Terrence Scammell) allow Felicie to stay in his class after she reveals her true identity? Will Victor’s crazy inventions actually work? Who will dance Clara in “The Nutcracker”? For answers to these and other questions, see “Leap!”
Elle Fanning and Nat Wolff are the voices of Felicie and Victor. She is plucky and determined to dance at the famous Paris Opera Ballet, even if (semi-spoiler) she has to fake it to get there. And Victor, klutzy and socially awkward, discovers feelings for Felicie and more bravery than he imagined. Both are easy characters to like. Some of the others are not. Maddie Ziegler is the voice of stuck-up, rich girl Camille, who says to poor, wannabe ballerina Felicie, “Who are you? Answer me! You are nothing!” Her overbearing mother Regine – voice of Kate McKinnon – will permit no one except daughter Camille to dance Clara. Tamir Kapelian is Rudolph, full-of-himself, principal boy dancer of the Opera Ballet. Says he, “I am a Russian prince” — which may, or may not, be true.
Others in the voice cast include Terrence Scammell as effete ballet master Merante and, as loud-mouthed director of the opera, Joe Sheridan. Listen for Mel Brooks as Monsieur Luteau, who will surprise you at the end.
“Leap!” is a French production, written and directed by Eric Summer and Eric Warin, with a familiar take-away message. “No matter what happens,” a character says to Felicie, “never give up your dreams. If you never leap, you’ll never know how to fly.” Felicie and Victor, 11 and 12 years old, learn to dance and fly – literally – in “Leap!” and youngsters of an age, with similar aspirations, may take to this lovely-to-look-at animated feature. But it has no talking animals for younger audiences, and older movie-goers may find its story too predictable.
Rated PG for impolite humor (bathroom jokes) and action (a silly and too long chase scene at the end that belongs in another movie), “Leap!” runs 89 minutes. For this one, it’s okay to wait for the DVD.
In animated “Leap!”
Ballet is Felicie’s dream;
Her film has pleasures, but
They’re few and far between.