Animated ballerina tale ‘Leap!’ stumbles: movie review

“Leap!” follows a wannabe 11-year-old dancer who tries to make her dream come true in 1880s Paris. The twinkletoed underdog deftly gets the job done. The movie — not so much.

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.

An orphan girl dreams of being a ballerina in "Leap!"

An orphan girl dreams of being a ballerina in “Leap!”

(Courtesy of The Weinstein Company)

Starting with Félicie, who, looks like Shailene Woodley, but is voiced by Elle Fanning. After the girl outwits an orphanage overseer (Mel Brooks) and runs away to the City of Light with BFF Victor (voiced by Nat Wolff), she wiles her way into ballet school and a new life.

Orphan BFFs voiced by Elle Fanning and Nat Wolff try to realize their dreams in Paris.

Orphan BFFs voiced by Elle Fanning and Nat Wolff try to realize their dreams in Paris.

(Courtesy of The Weinstein Company)

The creators work hard to shoehorn in contemporary touches and references, like “barf bags.” That’s fine. But romantic storylines jar. So does a scene in which Félicie barks at her stern but good-hearted mentor Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen, who sings the upbeat tune “Cut to the Feeling”) that she’s “going out.”

All three screenwriters either forgot or didn’t care that their heroine is 11. Even worse is when Félicie ends up dancing on tables in a bar — as in, a bar — “Coyote Ugly”-style. What? It’s not easy to take a message about taking leaps of faith from a movie that too often has two left feet.

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