Phantom Boy

 

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A deeply affectionate animated film with pleasures for both adults and children.

 

Phantom Boy

 

The French animation team of Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli gave us A Cat in Paris in 2010, a work which I described then as amiable but unexceptional. Their new piece, Phantom Boy, displays some of the same elements as before (a city setting, a crime story involving a central role for a child, fantastical elements and echoes of past movies) but it marks a considerable advance. Indeed, Phantom Boy is an out-and-out love letter celebrating a different city, New York, while paying homage to American cinema (especially that of the 1950s) and expressing admiration for the world of Marvel Comics.

 

It is that last element which may have the strongest appeal for today’s youngsters as the tale unfolds of 11-year-old Leo who, in hospital for treatment, discovers that he has the power to leave his body and fly through the air. It is by using this power that he can help a fellow patient, the cop Alex Tanner, who has been injured by an arch villain: that’s the man known as The Face who is threatening to destroy New York by releasing a lethal virus. With Alex restricted to his bed it is up to his friend, a journalist named Mary, to track down The Face and to save the city, but this is dangerous work and her safety depends on Leo’s ability to protect her by watching over her from above and reporting back to Alex while he is in his out-of-the-body state.

 

If children will enjoy it as a child’s adventure film with Leo as its young hero, adults will appreciate the many film references (famous lines are quoted or echoed and titles crop up in the dialogue while both the dockland scenes and such episodes as an attempt to murder a patient in the hospital lovingly recreate clichés from a past era). Although the version on release here is dubbed (making it desirable not to study the lip sync too closely), the fact that this French/Belgian co-production is set in New York ensures that the English language version, featuring adept voice casting headed by Vincent D’Onofrio, is natural to the location. Nicely individual, immensely affectionate and at 85 minutes not over-extended Phantom Boy is a pleasure and Woody Allen would be unlikely to complain when it throws in the old classic song 'Dream a Little Dream of Me'.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast (English language version): Marcus D'Angelo, Jared Padalecki, Vincent D'Onofrio, Melissa Disney, Rachel Salvatierra, Bill Lobley, Fred Armisen, Dana Snyder, Joey Camen.


Dir Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, Pro Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Annemie Degryse, Screenplay Alain Gagnol, Graphic Design Jean-Loup Felicioli, Ed Hervé Guichard, Myriam Copier and Pauline Coudurier, Music Serge Besset. English version credits: Script adaptation and English voice director Michael Sinterniklaas Pro Eric Beckman, David Jesteadt and Sophia Harvey.


Folimage/Lunanime/France 3 Cinéma/Rhone-Alpes Cinéma/Canal+/Ciné+-Soda Pictures.
85 mins. France/Belgium. 2015. Rel: 21 October 2016. Cert. PG
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