Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Movie Review: "Leap!" (2017)

Director: Eric Summer & √Čric Warin
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Two orphans named Felicie and Victor escape from their orphanage in Brittany in order to move to Paris so Felicie can pursue her dream of being a ballerina and Victor can pursue his dream of becoming a renowned inventor.

"Ballerina" is a French-Canadian production that was released abroad in 2016. A couple of major changes have implemented in the voice over department for this American release. Dane DeHaan has inexplicably been replaced with Nat Wolff as the voice of Victor, Kate McKinnon has replaced multiple lesser known voice actors in three separate roles, and Mel Brooks has been added as the voice of M. Luteau. With these changes instituted, The Weinstein Brothers finally decided the movie was ready for American audiences under the new title called "Leap!"  This movie centers around an orphan named Felicie, voiced by Elle Fanning, who has always dreamed of becoming a dancer. When her best friend Victor tells her of a top ballet school in Paris, the two decide to escape the orphanage and head to Paris in order to fulfill their dreams.

"Leap!" is an animated feature about following your dreams. It says that no matter where you come from or who you are, success can be found... for those who commit identity fraud... oh wait, we mean for those who work hard and truly believe in their dreams. Gee, we've never heard that before! The message is as generic as they come, which makes sense because this is a bland, run of the mill animated family feature.

There are numerous attempts at comedy constantly running throughout the film, each of which seems wholly out of place. One specific instance involves a bunch of bantering between Luteau and Victor as they chitter chatter back and forth during a chase scene. Every joke in this sequence falls completely flat, and boy, there are a lot of attempts to fill the silence. There are also the usual moments of awkward poop and fart jokes, most of which involve the character of Victor, who is clearly meant to be the movie's comedic relief. As for Felicie, any humor involving her character comes from her enthusiasm combined with her lack of skill. It is repeated several times that she has lots of spirits but lacks any sort of lightness, so we get to watch her fall down a thousand times because it's funny!

There is an entirely unbalanced tone in "Leap!" as the story shifts from a more endearing personal journey to something far more over the top and cartoonish, but in a bad way. We can't help but wonder if these stupid jokes were added in an effort to appease American audiences, but they certainly aren't worth the hassle because we know we didn't laugh once and we can't imagine kids laughing at this drivel either. Kate McKinnon voices an evil rich lady named Regine, who is the ultimate crazy dance mom so much so that she is willing to try and murder her daughter's competition. Sure, Disney movies of yesteryear played with the evil stepmother stereotype with success, but it is like the Regine character is in a completely different movie. Finally, the animation is on par with what we saw in "Shrek," which came out 16 years ago. We guess we can excuse this because the budget was only a mere $30 million, so it's understandable they don't get the texture and depth found in its higher budget counterparts. We have seen movies that cost more and look worse.

Overall, "Leap!" doesn't leap bounds, doesn't soar to new heights, and remains cliche, predictable, and basic on almost every level. It offers nothing new or memorable and the story, its characters are boring and expected, and the voice acting just isn't that engaging.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~38%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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