Review Roundup - Did Critics LEAP for Joy Over New Animated Film?
Dare to dream big with The Weinstein Company's LEAP!, featuring Carly Rae Jepsen's hit song from the soundtrack, "Cut To The Feeling." Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff and Maddie Ziegler star alongside Mel Brooks, Kate McKinnon and Carly Rae Jepsen in the animated family comedy.
11-year-old orphan, Félicie (Elle Fanning) has one dream - to go to Paris and become a dancer. Her best friend Victor (Nat Wolff), an imaginative but exhausting boy with a passion for creating, has a dream of his own - to become a famous inventor. In a leap of faith, Victor and Félicie leave their orphanage in pursuit of their passions. But - there's a catch, Félicie must pretend to be the child of a wealthy family in order to gain admittance to the prestigious and competitive Opera Ballet School in Paris.
And with no professional dance training, she quickly learns that talent alone is not enough to overcome the ruthless, conniving attitudes of her fellow classmates, led by the devious Camille Le Haut (Maddie Ziegler). Determined to succeed, Félicie finds her mentor in the tough and mysterious school custodian, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen) who, along with Victor's encouraging friendship, help her reach for the stars. Let's see what the critics have to say:
Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times: Directed by Éric Summer and Éric Warin (and first released in Europe as "Ballerina," sans that wanton exclamation point), "Leap!" remains peppy as it sets its bar at a low-to-medium height then cheerfully clears it. Sure, the movie could have heeded its own advice and taken a few risks. But the filmmakers know just what their younger audience wants - a sunny story and plenty of dancing - and they're not taking any chances.
Guy Lodge, Variety: Only the ballet sequences themselves disappoint, sidestepping opportunities for more inspired, extravagant spectacle - not helped, admittedly, by a disjointed soundtrack undecided between Klaus Badelt's traditional scoring and a panoply of synthetic pop confections that, while perfectly catchy and crammed with suitably inspirational lyrics, do little to convey Félicie's artistic inspiration. Played at the stage climax, Jepsen's bespoke contribution, "Cut to the Feeling," may be a tasty shot of electro-bubblegum, but just try dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy to it. In this respect, if few others, "Ballerina" moves very much to its own beat.
Brian Truitt, USA Today: Leap! is best when tapping into the heart rather than the mind, thrilling with an ultimate ballet faceoff that makes Dancing With the Stars look like amateur hour while also watching Félicie's big dreams take flight.
Rafer Guzmán, Newsday: All told, "Leap!" feels like an imitation of a movie. The dialogue occasionally sounds like poster copy, as when Odette tells Felicie, "Standing in the way of your dreams is your biggest nightmare." The animation is an uneven combination of warm, expressive faces (Felicie seems to be modeled on Emma Watson) and rubbery, cartoonish bodies (not a great quality in a movie about ballet). Very young children might be mildly entertained, but for most adults, "Leap!" will feel more like a splat.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: The story is inherently heart-tugging. There are some cute and cheeky moments and the animated ballet scenes swirl and twirl. But this cartoon comes up short in the charm and consistency departments. So many things don't go together.
Josh Lasser, IGN: It is far more easy to cheer for an orphan than to come down against one. Perhaps that is why other characters in the film and the audience both pull for Félicie to succeed here in Leap!However, stopping and looking at the way in which Félicie goes about achieving her dreams may cause a viewer to pause. If it was Dudley who was meant to get the letter to go to Hogwarts but Harry had stolen it and used it to go to the school, everything that follows would be less magical. As heartwarming as the story in Leap! can sometimes be, and as strong as the relationship is between Félicie and Odette, her actions can make it difficult to cheer for her as wholeheartedly as the film intends.
Keith Watson, Slant: With characters decked out in jean shorts and leg warmers, Leap! never fully commits to its period milieu, even setting its ballet sequences not to classical music, but anthemic pop bangers by the likes Sia and Jepsen. Replacing Tchaikovsky with Demi Lovato may help to underscore the film's theme of self-empowerment, but it provides a discordant and distractingly anachronistic accompaniment to the flowing elegance of the dancing. Despite a few colorful detours to a raucous pub and Pierre Eiffel's workshop, where the Statue of Liberty sits half-built in the background, Leap! feels boxed in by the Karate Kidclichés of its sports-movie template, too fixated on its narrative of competition and self-mastery to simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.