Genre: CG Animation
Director: Eric Summer and Eric Warin
Cast: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 22 December 2016
Synopsis: The film tells the story of Félicie, a young orphan girl with a passion for dancing. With the help of her best friend Victor, she manages to escape from an orphanage and travel all the way to Paris, where many challenges and intriguing encounters await her. Ballerina is a funny and touching story about friendship, self-confidence and family.
Even an incomplete Eiffel Tower looks fascinating in the background of this latest Canada-France animated co-production which features the voices of Elle Fanning (Super 8), Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen.
Set in late 1800’s France, Fanning voices Felicie, an exuberant orphan who dreams of doing ballet in the City of Light- Paris. Her best friend happens to be Victor (DeHaan), an aspiring inventor who manages to escape with Felicie from the orphanage on his newly invented ‘chicken wings’. Armed with her passion to dance, Felicie stumbles upon the Paris Opera house where she stole the identity of a rich, spoilt brat and under the tutelage of a cleaner, Odette (Jepsen), Felicie is one step closer to her dream provided her true identity is not disclosed.
Despite the occasional (very minimal) fart/pigeon poop jokes etc,Ballerina actually contains several positive messages that will mesmerize both adults and children alike. Adults will approve the young ones to catch this while the young ones will fall in love with the breezy story and pacing. Directors Eric Summer (who also carry out writing duties) and Eric Warin fills the 91 minutes story with non-stop drama, action, comedy and of course an inspiring theme of ‘follow your dream’. Not a second is a bore as there are always something interesting or funny to laugh at on the screen.
Of course since this is a budgeted animation that is tailored purely for the younger crowd, there’s a drastic shortage of characterization, plotholes for example, what actually happened to the limping Odette? Obviously we were told she was once a fine ballerina. How did she end up working for the cruel, snobbish restaurateur Regine? And what is her relationship to the Opera House’s no-nonsense instructor, Merante?
There are tonnes of glaring questions but Summer and Warin choses to focus on Felicie and her romantic escapades with a (read: stereotyped) classy fellow male dancer. Not to forget, Felicie who conveniently forgotten about Victor, the gutsy friend and admirer who always stand by her and brought her to Paris in the first place. Of course, such narrative flaws are common since mentioned earlier, this is the typical underdog story that aims to charm the younger ones which is the main prority here.
As compared to the outputs of American animation powerhouse, the apparent lack of polishness and details doesn’t seem to deter the filmmakers as like the protagonist, they made the best of what is available. Paris in animated form is much poorer in terms of visual if you must put this side by side with Ratatouille, an animation released almost a decade ago. Still, the animation standard is good enough for the average moviegoer.
Populated by pop tunes contributed by Sia, Demi Levato, Carly Rae Jepsen herself and several all too familiar classical tracks liked Swan Lake and Nutcracker, Ballerina is one sweet, endearing animation this holiday season. Those little girls who go for weekly ballet lessons might be an instant fan of this.
(A happy ending story of a gutsy girl and her goofy admirer and sidekick, what’s there to hate about Ballerina?)
Review by Linus Tee