Leap! (Ballerina) Parent Review
The cliché plot holds few surprises, but may still inspire young viewers who have dancing dreams of their own.
Note: The movie is called Ballerina in most markets, and opens in Canadian theaters on March 3, 2017. This animation is releasing under the name of Leap! in the United States (opening April 21, 2017).
Dreams are often the powerful motivating force in a movie’s script. And when the aspirations are those of a couple of parentless children, the ambitions are unstoppable. It’s the late 1800s in France and young Félicie (voice of Elle Fanning) has attempted so many elaborate escapes from her surprisingly comfortable orphanage that she has become an endearing counterpoint to the institution’s otherwise humdrum activities. However, when her good friend Victor (voice of Dane DeHaan) provides his services as a creative accomplice, both manage to break free and make their way to Paris where each plan to pursue their dreams.
Arriving in the city, the pair of gregarious ‘tweens soon use their charming personalities to conveniently position themselves on the pathway to success. Victor wants to be an inventor. After seeing the Tour de Effiel in the process of construction, he manages to weasel his way into Gustav Effiel’s shop—even though he is only a lowly sweeper-upper. During the same time, Félicie manages to worm her way into the life of Odette (voice of Carly Rae Jepsen), a lame woman who works as a cleaner at an acclaimed dancing school, when she offers to assist her with her chores.
Considering the animation’s title (Leap! in the US, Ballerina in Canada and other foreign markets), it’s no surprise the script focuses on Félicie. As coincidence would have it, Odette also keeps house for an aristocrat named Régine Le Haut (voice of Julie Khaner), whose haughty daughter Camille (voice of Maddie Ziegler) is training to be a ballerina and has applied for admittance at the prestigious dancing school. Félicie happens to be tidying up by the front door when Camille’s letter of acceptance arrives. Seizing the opportunity, Félicie pretends to be Camille, and attends academy herself.
The cliché plot holds few surprises, although it requires some great imagination (or plain naivety) to believe a girl with no classical training will be able to work her way through the complicated and demanding rigors of this art form, and have a chance of being chosen to dance a lead role in an upcoming show. What usually takes years happens in only a few days. This unrealistic depiction might also engender high hopes in small ones who believe they can do likewise.
Besides Félicie’s deceit (which inevitably is discovered), other content concerns include mild potty humor, slapstick antics, mean-spirited competition, bullying and an over-the-top antagonist whose jealousy turns to murderous intents and threats with a sledge hammer.
Still, this Canadian/French co-production does boast some impressive visuals. It may also have young viewers with similar dreams happily doing pirouettes for a while to come. With that payoff in mind, perhaps sitting through this film won’t be tutu painful for parents.Directed by Eric Summer, Éric Warin. Starring Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler. Running time: 89 minutes. Theatrical release August 30, 2017. Updated April 4, 2017
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Leap! (Ballerina) here.
Leap! (Ballerina) Parents Guide
Each of the characters in this film has dreams. How do these aspirations inspire them to do hard things? How does their ambition also lead them to lie and hurt others? Is it possible to pursue your goals without having to ignore your ethics? How satisfying is success if you have to cheat to get it? What are your dreams? What price would you be willing to pay to achieve them?