Rated PG, 90 minutes
The stale, unmemorable new animated film "Leap" has a handful of good moves but little substance. The Canadian film, originally titled "Ballerina" and just now getting a U.S. release, would've been better for a straight-to-DVD release, given that its target audience will probably be bored with it after awhile. While likable and with its heart in the right place, it's a passionless tale of achieving your passions.
Set in Paris, France in 1884, an orphaned 11-year old girl named Félicie Milliner (Elle Fanning) has no money but one big, passionate dream: to become a dancer. She pretends to be a spoiled brat to get into a fancy ballet school, but how long can she be someone else? Mentored by the tough and mysterious cleaner, Odette (singer Carly Rae Jepsen), Félicie learns that talent alone is not enough - it takes hard work to truly be great. Felicie's charming and fellow orphaned best friend Victor (Nat Wolff) also has a dream: becoming a famous inventor. Together, they both encourage each other to reach for the stars.
The bland "Leap" is co-directed by Eric Summer and Eric Warin with a script by Summer, Laurent Zeitoun and Carol Noble, the mildly entertaining musical has some sweet, lighthearted moments and a few peppy dance moves, but clearly not enough to engage audiences for 90 minutes. Some of the musical and dance numbers are fine, but it's everything else in between that is lacking. In particular, it could've used some more bold storytelling moves, as it borrows from just about everything from "Cinderella" to "Oliver!" to even last year's "Moana."
There are two inspiring things about "Leap:" "Saturday Night Live" comedian Kate McKinnon, as the sneering, rich old owner of the castle that Felice helps clean, and especially veteran, iconic comedian Mel Brooks as the bug-eyed headmaster of the orphanage that Felice and Victor escape from. However, both have minimal footage and the spark that both add to the film is much too brief. By the time it gets to the big, climactic number at the end, both kids and adults may have nodded off enough to wonder what's really going.
"Leap" is the type of mediocre, lackluster movie that comes near the end of the summer, when studios start burning off uninspiring fare such as this. Sure, it has a good message, pursuing and working for your dreams, but you'll be more satisfied watching "So You Think You Can Dance." A definite rental for sure.