There are plenty of children’s movies out right now, but all of them are lighthearted in nature or just plain silly. Leap! stands out because it’s such a serious film geared towards children that’s more of a 90-minute life lesson than an animated fun fest.
The French film (partially done in France and Canada) is directed by Éric Summer and Éric Warin and features Mel Brooks, Elle Fanning, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Maddie Ziegler. Felicie (Elle Fanning) and Victor (Dane DeHaan) are young children living in a very remote orphanage. Victor is a fun-loving, aspiring inventor while Felicie has a zest for adventure and loves to dance. The pair of best friends share the same two goals: to achieve their respective dreams and to escape the orphanage (and ultimately end up in Paris).
From the moment we’re introduced to the kids we discover that nobody supports their dreams or aspirations. In a more ideal situation in a familial setting, the parents support their kids in whatever their interests may be. But in this situation, the head of the orphanage explains to Felicie that it’s not safe to dream and that dreams never come true. She went even further, explaining how kids should never dream because it gets their hopes up for things that will never happen (she’s pretty dark to be watching over children).
After a daring escape, the adventurous duo finally makes it to Paris and get by completely on their own. Felicie’s goal is to join a premiere dancing school while Victor wants to be an inventor. After getting separated by a barrage of pigeons, the two agree to meet by the Eiffel Tower at the same time the following day. During their separation, Felicie encounters even more people who damper her dreams of being a dancer.
The recurring theme that runs through this film is obstacles. First, there was the issue of being stuck at the orphanage without hope. Once they determined the adults in charge were know-nothings, they made their way to Paris. Then, while in Paris, without a place to stay or a mode of transportation, Victor finds an inventor to shadow and Felicie finds the famous ballet school. Finally, Felicie is doubted by an extremely jealous schoolmate, her bitter and petty mother, and several others at the school. These hindrances may have caused her to stumble and doubt herself, but those feelings were temporary because her love of dance is what kept her happy.
With the type of humor and conversations that take place, you can definitely tell this was made overseas. Outside of the U.S.A., the film goes by a different name, “Ballerina,” but the lessons taught are the same. Never give up on your dreams and be sure to support the people you care about.
Leap! is a fun film that gets a 7.5 out of 10. It runs approximately 89 minutes so it’s not too long, but some of the foreign comedy might go over the heads of young children. It’s definitely not a film that pays attention to history since the use of a motorcycle and the construction of both the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty are all happening at once. The film is worth taking the kids to see simply for the fact that it pushes a good message. Never give up, no matter what anyone says.