The boy who could fly

In a season saturated with superhero sagas (see above), Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli’s Phantom Boy offers a quaint, sweet-natured respite from mega-buck behemoths.

Gagnol’s story focuses on Leo, a young boy who loves comic books but is suffering from cancer. During his hospitalization, he discovers that he has an ability to become invisible, pass through walls and fly – which comes in handy when a masked (mad)man called “The Face” announces his intent to take over New York City.

Joining forces with a prototypical rule-bending detective and an equally prototypical plucky female reporter, Leo has a chance to live out his superhero fantasy, although in exercising his “phantom” abilities he aggravates his ailment.

Phantom Boy was originally made in France, but the incorporation of American voice talent doesn’t compromise the storyline, which is conveyed with a childlike sense of wonder and a good deal of affection. Marcus D’Angelo voices Leo, and Vincent D’Onofrio, growling away with a comical “Noo Yawk” accent, all but steals the show as The Face, who’s not nearly as competent as he seems to think he is.

Serge Besset contributes a light and lively score, and although the animation is much more simple than American audiences may be accustomed to – particularly in a summer filled with eye-popping animated features – it’s very much in keeping with the film’s gentle charm.

Phantom Boy opens Friday !

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