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Review: Phantom Boy

There is quite a bit to admire about Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s animated film Phantom Boy. The film has style to burn, though the actual mode of animation is a bit muddled (yet it definitely feels like a throwback).

The film is the latest from GKIDS, which surprised with an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film a couple of years back with A Cat in Paris. This effort is a throwback not only in terms of its animation, but in its storyline as well, as strange as it may be. The initial lead of the film is Lieutenant Alex (Jared Padalecki of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls fame), who is something of a roguish figure, but clearly on the right side of the law. When Lt. Alex is injured by the notorious gangster The Face, alternately known as The Man With The Broken Face (Vincent D’Onofrio), along with his sidekick The Little One (Fred Armisen), he meets a young boy named Leo (Marcus D’Angelo). The two come together in the hospital and through some sort some sort of magic that is never explained (but really doesn’t need to be), the sick Leo can be in two places at once, as his projection becomes the Phantom Boy of the title (accompanied by a great little sound effect).

The two, (or three, if you prefer), team up with a woman named Mary to bring down the corruption in the city, which is surprisingly New York, but a version of New York which still feels very Gallic, even in the dubbed version that we watched. The whole tale feels very comic, and even at 78 minutes might have a few too many facets stuffed into it, but when it comes together it creates a kind of effect rarely captured on film, especially on hand-drawn animated film: whimsy.

Phantom Boy is a must watch for the summer.

[star v=35]