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I attended a free screening of Leap!  All opinions are mine.

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11-year-old orphan, Félicie (Elle Fanning) has one dream – to go to Paris and become a dancer. Her best friend Victor (Nat Wolff), an imaginative but exhausting boy with a passion for creating, has a dream of his own - to become a famous inventor. In a leap of faith, Victor and Félicie leave their orphanage in pursuit of their passions. But – there’s a catch, Félicie must pretend to be the child of a wealthy family in order to gain admittance to the prestigious and competitive Opera Ballet School in Paris. 

And with no professional dance training, she quickly learns that talent alone is not enough to overcome the ruthless, conniving attitudes of her fellow classmates, led by the devious Camille Le Haut (Maddie Ziegler) and her wicked mother Régine (Kate McKinnon). Determined to succeed, Félicie finds her mentor in the tough and mysterious school custodian, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen) who, along with Victor’s encouraging friendship, help her reach for the stars.

When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina because of their graceful movements, gorgeous costumes, and the way they stood on their tippy toes on pointe.  Sadly, I have two left feet and dancing is just not something I'm good at.  But I still admire the grace and poise of ballet and have encouraged my girls to develop an appreciation for the art.

I knew Leap! would be a movie that my girls would love as soon as I saw the trailer (both love dressing up in dance costumes and twirling).  Felicie wants to become a ballerina, even though she has had no training, so she sets off to Paris with her friend Victor to follow that dream.  Along the way, she encounters obstacles including a "mean girl".

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Elle Fanning Stars in LEAP!
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

The movie has many heart-warming moments, a bit of history mixed in (although modern times are mixed with historical), as well as humor that kids will enjoy.  There are great lessons on determination, hard work, friendship, and never giving up on your dreams.

However, there is an essential moral issue in the plot that should have been addressed.  Felicie lies to accomplish her goal of going to dance school, and the writers didn't really deal with this moral problem well.  Despite the fact that Felicie lied, she is still allowed to stay in the class and audition like the other girls.  There was no negative consequence for her lie from the dance teacher.

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Elle Fanning Stars in LEAP!
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Lying to get ahead is not a message that I think should be promoted in a positive light.  While I understand everyone deserves second chances, the dance teacher should have clearly addressed her lie and given her a consequence instead of sending a mixed message. He was being kind to her, but he should have made her clean the dance studio after class or given her some other direct consequence for her deception.

The other issue I had with the film was the bully/mean girl situation with Camille.  The writers had a great opportunity to deal with bullying in a very realistic way.  Camille however, has a very quick change of heart towards Felicie, after calling her a "rat", making her feel worthless, and treating her horribly up to that point.  

Movie reviews, family friendly films, animated films, Weinstein Films, ballet
Elle Fanning Stars in LEAP!
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

In real life, bullies don't have such a quick turn-around in character and end up being friends after a hug and an apology.  Most times it takes something significant to change a bully, and many times bullies don't change at all.  I wish they had dealt with it differently.

movie reviews, ballet, animated films
Elle Fanning Stars in LEAP!
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Overall, the setting, quirky characters, inventions, dance moves, and toe-tapping music (love Carly Rae Jensen's "Cut to the Feeling") all make Leap! a fun family adventure. There are also some important life lessons to discuss with your kids too.

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