2017 has not been a good year for animated films. At this point last year, we had Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia, The Little Prince, Finding Dory, and Kubo and the Two Strings. From that list alone, two films were nominated for an Academy Award with Zootopia eventually coming out as the winner for the Best Animated Feature Film. So far this year we have Rock Dog, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Emoji Movie, and The Nut Job 2. Only The Lego Batman Movie and Captain Underpants, as well as the Japanese film Your Name, have seemed to receive serious critical acclaim this year. Does Leap! turn a corner for animated films? No, it doesn’t.
If you’re not familiar with Leap!, it is the story of orphaned best friends Félicie and Victor who escape their orphanage in Brittany in order to go to Paris and chase their dreams. Félicie wants nothing more than to become a dancer while Victor wants to be an inventor. While in Paris, both kids go on their own journeys towards achieving their ultimate goals and each encounters their own set of problems.
The main problem I had with this movie was the script itself. Leap! is filled with cheesy dialogue and childish jokes that don’t quite work the way they are supposed to. There is no reason why the villain in a children’s movie (or any movie for that matter) should quote MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and sadly, it happens here. Questionable dialogue isn’t the only problem with the script. There is a running gag in the film where the two friends meet up in the same spot every day and every time they do, something incredibly silly happens that separates them. It just felt a little too over-the-top and nonsensical in a story that would have benefitted from being a little more grounded in reality. The film is also filled with characters that act a certain way for most of the film and then they have sudden changes of heart to make them act differently, but none of these are ever properly explained. They just simply happen. Even Félicie becomes unlikeable at times due to her poor treatment of those who care for her.
Leap! is very clearly made only for kids, and that is okay. Not every movie has to please both kids and adults. The children that were in the audience when I saw this movie seemed to really enjoy it. For the most part, they were the only ones laughing at the film’s corny jokes. My problem with the film is that a big part of the success that Félicie finds stems from her stealing somebody else’s identity in order to be apart of the ballet school she so badly wants to go to. When she is eventually caught, instead of being punished she is rewarded by being allowed to continue being part of the ballet program. If that wasn’t enough, her instructor clearly roots for her to beat Camille (the girl whose identity she stole) for the chance to play Clara in their performance of “The Nutcracker”. I find this troubling because the film very clearly tells its audience that it is okay to cheat and lie in order to achieve your dreams. Without any real repercussions to doing these things, what message are we really promoting?
Despite its many flaws there are some moments of ingenuity. The setting, which is in 1880s Paris works very well for the film. We get to see the construction of both the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, which works well to make Victor’s character relevant. There are also some moments that were very beautifully animated. The way Paris is shown, especially at night, was wonderfully done. For the most part, the relationship between Félicie and Victor works and we believe that they truly care for each other. Sadly, there isn’t enough good in this film to outweigh the bad. At the end of the day, Leap! is a film that kids will enjoy but ultimately, it will be just one more addition to 2017s growing list of underwhelming animated movies.
|Director:||Eric Summer, Eric Warin|
|Studio:||The Weinstein Company|
|Release Date:||August 25, 2017|