An­i­mated tale of or­phaned young bal­le­rina stum­bles

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­san Wloszczyna The Wash­ing­ton Post

Any­one who’s ever dreamed of tu­tus, tights and toe shoes will likely get a kick out of “Leap!” But the We­in­stein Co.’s first an­i­mated film un­der the Mizchief ban­ner — the tale of a de­ter­mined 11-year-old or­phan named Feli­cie (voiced with girl­ish pluck by Elle Fan­ning) pur­su­ing bal­let in 1870s Paris — is more of a hop than a grand jete in an al­ready com­pet­i­tive car­toon arena.

When it comes to qual­ity, you can’t kid a kid, many of whom have been ex­posed to such so­phis­ti­cated re­cent fare as “Moana,” “Zootopia” and “In­side Out” (not to men­tion those glo­ri­fied Lego ads pos­ing as fea­ture films).

That said, “Leap!” is a step up from We­in­stein’s “Shrek”-on-a-bud­get “Hood­winked” films, and it makes the most of its dis­tinctly Old World aes­thetic and en­tic­ing char­ac­ter de­sign. The usu­ally teem­ing City of Light, how­ever, seems eer­ily un­der­pop­u­lated and hushed, save for the main char­ac­ters, with the an­i­ma­tors sav­ing most of their vis­ual magic for del­i­cate light­ing ef­fects and soar­ing rooftop scenes in which Feli­cie tries out her MPAA rat­ing: PG (for some im­po­lite hu­mor and ac­tion) Run­ning time: 1:29 Opens: Fri­day im­pro­vised dance moves, while her pal and fel­low or­phan, Vic­tor (Nat Wolff ), a would-be in­ven­tor, tests out his pair of me­chan­i­cal wings.

Where “Leap!” stum­bles most is in the story, which is be­holden to ev­ery un­der­dog tale ever, in­clud­ing “The Karate Kid.” Like other par­ent­less urchins be­fore them, Feli­cie and Vic­tor, who long to make their way in the out­side world, stage an an­tic es­cape from their ru­ral or­phan­age, over­seen by a bul­bous toad of a man with mas­sive mut­ton chops (Mel Brooks mi­nus the Brook­lyn in­to­na­tions).

When they ar­rive in Paris, Vic­tor finds a lowly job with en­gi­neer Gus­tave Eif­fel, who is in the midst of cre­at­ing his name­sake tower. Mean­while, Feli­cie fi­na­gles her way into the Opera Bal­let School by im­per­son­at­ing a snotty rich girl named Camille (Mad­die Ziegler), who has in­ten­tion­ally bro­ken Feli­cie’s cher­ished mu­sic box.

Yet the maestro has lit­tle faith in the abil­i­ties of the un­trained Feli­cie, who has, as he puts it, “the en­ergy of a bul­let and the light­ness of a de­pressed ele­phant.” As he searches for his Clara for a pro­duc­tion of “The Nutcracker,” our hero­ine finds an un­likely men­tor in a lame clean­ing woman with a se­cret past (played by singer Carly Rae Jep­son, who pro­vides a sur­pris­ingly warm and dra­matic vo­cal pres­ence). The true beat­ing heart of “Leap!” can be found in their touch­ing re­la­tion­ship as the film winds its way to­ward a cli­mac­tic dance­off

For what­ever rea­son, jar­ring anachro­nisms abound. Feli­cie dons denim hot pants at one point, and Camille’s nasty stage mother (Kate McKin­non, who also voices two other parts) ac­tu­ally says, “It’s ham­mer time.” The son­net on the Statue of Lib­erty is ref­er­enced, years be­fore it was writ­ten. And there are two fart jokes — just be­cause.

But don’t fret, par­ents. Your tween will prob­a­bly be too busy hum­ming along to the sound­track’s girl-power pop tunes, by Jepsen and Sia, to no­tice. Su­san Wloszczyna is a free­lance writer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.