In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theater impresario's attempt to save his theater with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists' find that their lives will never be the same.
After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.
Something tells me there's more to the film than just a wannabe ballerina setting out to achieve her dreams. I could be very wrong but I believe his to be a personal accomplishment for French director/screenplay writer Eric Summer who comes from Brittany himself, where this story starts at an orphanage in 1879.
Enlisting the talent of French animator who was partly responsible for one of my favourite animated movies, Belleville Rendez-vous, Éric Warin sits alongside Summer in the director's chair and what they give us is a delightful underdog story.
The focus of the story is on Félicie, voiced by Elle Fanning, an ambitious yet rebellious orphan girl who dreams of becoming a dancer, constantly attempting to flee the orphanage to Paris, in pursuit of her ambition.
She's not alone in either dream-chasing or escaping the orphanage. Victor, voiced by Dane DeHaan, an obvious admirer of hers also wishes to leave to become a famous inventor, so the two of them embark on an adventure finally reaching Paris and with various strokes of good fortunate, end up where they both want to be.
The voices don't necessarily match their characters, DeHaan being far to old (apologies, 30 isn't old, but...) to voice a teenage orphan. Pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen does a fine job of voicing broken ballerina, Odette, but I'm most impressed with Sia's music video dancing star, Maddie Ziegler, voicing the spoilt, stuck-up Camille.
It has all the ingredients of a simple yet pleasing underdog story with some impressive and enticing animation. The dances themselves are superbly gracefully and the details are brilliant. There's troublesome emotions, difficult choices and quite a few triumphs with a clear message of never giving up and what ever you do, do it with heart.
It's predictable but that's forgivable being a children's film. It's loaded with touching gestures and typical twists that make the film memorable but is equally loaded with unnecessary silliness and feels a little rushed in places, possibly to keep children's attention.
It's not a musical but the soundtrack that accompanies the film really stands out with some great tracks from Magical Thinker, Chantal Kreviazuk and Camila Mora. Klaus Badelt does a graceful and enchanting score that does well to stand alone from Tchaikovsky's ballet greats of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker.
It's good sign not hearing any disturbances for the young audience and my God-Daughter seemed to enjoy it giving a little dance at the end. It's far from perfect but there's some great scenes and you can see the effort was put in. It's good light-hearted entertainment for the whole family.
Running Time: 8 The Cast: 6 Performance: 7 Direction: 7 Story: 8 Script: 7 Creativity: 8 Soundtrack: 9 Job Description: 9 The Extra Bonus Points: 0
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