Movie Information

The Story: In 19th-century Paris, runaway orphans Felicie and Victor try to make it big as a ballerina and an inventor. The Lowdown: Heavy-handed, hideous and humorless, the talented supporting voice cast can't do much with this tripe that even the little kids in the target audience will assuredly rip to shreds on the way home.
Genre: Animated Fantasy
Director: Eric Summer and Eric Warin
Starring: Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Mel Brooks, Carly Rae Jepsen, Maddie Ziegler, Kate McKinnon
Rated: PG

Where to begin with this one? Is it the flat, sub-Polar Express character designs? Those are certainly off-putting, but I’ve seen worse. Or do the badly placed modern pop songs throw the whole thing off-kilter? Again, they’re horrible, but not enough to derail the movie. It could simply be that this is the second incarnation of this particular project to make its way to audiences in the past year, after the original French-Canadian film Ballerina was released for the rest of the U.K. market then (bafflingly) redubbed for American cinemas. Whatever the case may be, nothing seems to have been done in the interim to make Leap! make a lick of sense or turn it into something I could ever imagine children sitting through for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Right from the start, we’re in trouble. The film more or less blasts off into its plot, involving runaway orphans Felicie (Elle Fanning) and Victor (Nat Wolff) as they make their grand escape from the clutches of the evil Luteau (Mel Brooks). Except, why are they escaping? I have no idea, and the movie never really even attempts to explain this. Luteau isn’t such a bad guy, but I guess breaking out and hitting the road for Paris to live your dream of being a ballerina or an inventor is as good a reason as any. Honestly, though, I’m mostly left wondering if modern audiences full of kids even have the pop cultural awareness that there are such things as orphanages? They used to be fairly common devices for kiddie wish fulfillment fare, but I’m not sure that’s still the case (maybe they remember the recent Annie remake?). In any event, the movie makes no sense from the jump and tries to glide along on charm alone, which it’s also sorely lacking, so make of that what you will.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 12.43.33 AM
Of the two runaways, only Felicie’s ballet story gets any attention from the script, and even then is just a watered-down Karate Kid (didn’t we just get one of those?) with a heavy-as-lead Follow Your Dreams theme haphazardly tossed on top. I want to say Victor is left offscreen for approximately 90 percent of the running time, making it even more bizarre that his voice was recast for this release. He whines about wanting to be an inventor, gets a few quick minutes of wacky business every so often and is quickly forgotten.

For a character so heavily pimped by both the posters and trailers, I really hope there aren’t millions of Wolff fans out there whose parents are now going to have to write angry letters to Gaumont. If you are such a parent, I can tell you from experience that when you write angry letters to Gaumont about, say, the fact that your Region B DVD of Fairytales in Color was falsely advertised as being all-region, they will not respond. Gaumont does not care about what you think. This may not apply to Wolff fandom, but a word of advice, either way. Rated PG for some impolite humor, and action.

Now Playing at AMC Classic River Hills 10, Carolina Cinemark, Regal Biltmore Grande, Epic of Hendersonville.


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.