Leap (2017)

Checked out the new animated ballet movie Leap, previously known as Ballerina. It’s a French film that the Weinstein company brought it to the US, renamed it, recast the voices (which were already in English), and maybe ruined it? Ballerina has a good Rotten Tomatoes rating… Leap has a bad one. Was there anything TO ruin? Yes, surprisingly it was a pretty good little movie… about ballet… set in the late 19th century… with pop songs.
Felicie (rhymes distractingly with Khaleesi) is a young orphan girl who dreams of escaping to Paris and becoming a dancer. So she does, with the help of her friend who wants to be an inventor (and gets a gig with Gustave Eiffel who is in the middle of building his tower). Felicie (not Khaleesi) stumbles into a school for dancers and has to play hurry up education with the better trained students. Will she be able to catch up? Can she get the top gig with the prima ballerina? Can she avoid the mean girls who stand in her way? Will they find her out and ship her back to the orphanage?
Hey, I know about as much about ballet as I do about Betelgeuse… but if a movie gives me a hero, obstacles, a school and advancement against the odds and it does it well, then it can be Harry Potter or Felicie and it’ll be compelling. And while the movie is focusing on her education, achieving her dreams, moving up in the ranks, impressing her teachers, etc., it’s a pleasantly good movie. It makes its ballet and dance animation look good… beautiful even.
But the movie also wants to give her adventures and boy trouble and other corny drama and even cornier comedy. The comedy attempts in the movie are terrible and it feels like this may be part of the redub for American audiences. There’s noticeable examples of additional dialog added to scenes where we can’t see the character’s faces… it’s noticeable and really unfunny. Not that the original version of the film didn’t have flaws – you can’t dub over the fact the film’s climax involves an unnecessary fight on the Statue of Liberty… just like an X-Men movie!
Well, anyway, regardless of that, this is an alright movie for kids that won’t offend adults and may even draw them into the main story. The conversion down for American audiences was not impressive, the side stories were weak, and the dialog and humor tenuous at best. But what it does right, it does right enough to provide a mild recommendation. I’ve seen much, much worse animated flicks this summer… this one is alright.
Score: 76

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