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Ballerina is a 2016 English-language Canadian-French 3D computer-animated musical adventure comedy film co-directed by Éric Summer and Éric Warin. The screenplay, by Summer, Carol Noble and Laurent Zeitoun, with music by Klaus Badelt, concerns a poor orphan girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina and gets a chance to audition for the celebrated school of the Paris Opera Ballet.
The film stars the voices of Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen. It was released in theatres in France and the UK in December 2016. The film is set to be released in the US on August 30, 2017, under the title Leap!, with Nat Wolff replacing DeHaan, and Kate McKinnon and Mel Brooks added.
The idea of a little girl or boy wanting to do ballet is not new. Making an animated film around the passion of Ballet is new as far as I know. I hadn’t even seen a single trailer for this but took my daughter to see it. Simply put, it was fantastic. Other reviews mention that it’s stereotypical with shallow characters but it IS a children’s film and it has such a terrific message behind it. The unique background of France and early 19th Century Paris makes this an adventure that is outside of the normal run of the mill children’s film. Yes I suppose it is predictable and as far as characters or moral it’s not new but you know sometimes it’s nice just to see something nice! Ballerina (now renamed Leap) is not this year’s runaway hit but it was a sweet, cute, fun time at the movies.
The cast is very good. The characters aren’t unique but that doesn’t mean they are relatable and fun and easy to connect with. Elle Fanning perfectly voices the hard headed dreamer Felicie. She is a wonderful hero for young girls and boys alike. Her passion for dance is really endearing. Dane DeHaan is adorable and perfect as her best friend (carrying a flame for her) the inventor Victor. The two characters together are perfection and their very light romance adds to the story. Carly Rae Jepsen is fantastic as the former dancer turned mentor Odette, Julie Khaner, Terrence Scammell and Tamir Kapelian round out some of the best of this case. They all fit their roles very well.
Perhaps the film is finding some trouble finding it’s demographic. I think it might appear to be aimed at older children when in fact I think very young children might enjoy it even more. The backdrop of Paris and the excitement of the ballet and some of the animated dancing scenes are really fantastic. The “Rocky” type montage of Felicie honing her dance skills was fantastic. Co-Directors Eric Summer (also wrote the film) and Eric Warin are not full of animated experience so that makes this outing all the more impressive to me. I think someone with more experience in the genre might have really been able to tweak and edit this to perfection BUT that’s not to say the Erics did a bad job. I think they did a great job and I will add this to my daughter’s film collection the moment it comes out. I enjoyed it very much. 8/10