“Phantom Boy” (2015)
Leo is an eleven-year-old boy who is incredibly sick. His parents and his sister are worried about his upcoming trip to the hospital for treatment. To keep his mind off of his troubles, Leo immerses himself into stories about detectives. He imagines that he is a detective who is tracking down the latest evil mastermind on the rooftops of New York City and bringing them to justice. These dreams are always interrupted by his well-meaning family, who awaken him, this time, to take his trip to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Alex Tanguy is already in the doghouse with his boss. The detective captured a bad guy red-handed trying to break into a warehouse, but in the midst of apprehending the suspect, Tanguy accidentally burns down the facility. Now, as punishment for his latest misstep, Tanguy has been assigned the crappy job of patrolling the docks.
A master criminal, who calls himself “The Man with the Broken Face,” has appeared in New York City and to show his strength, he turns off all the power to the city for fifteen minutes. He demands an outrageous sum of money or he will permanently put New York in total darkness, and the city just might pay it out. Leo stumbles on “The Man with the Broken Face” and in the attempt to bring him down, is shot in the leg and is sent to the same hospital that Leo is in. Leo has discovered that if he lies real still in his hospital bed, his body will float invisible above everyone else, and he can control where and how fast his body will float, not only through the hospital corridors but the city as well. Soon, due to a chance encounter at the hospital, Leo, and the detective meet up. With the street smarts of the detective and the kid’s ability to float all over the city, they are ready to take on the master criminal and save their town.
Academy Award nominated directors of “A Cat in Paris”, Jean-Loup Felicioli, and Alain Gagnol, bring us a beautiful but simple animated tale. The film should captivate young children, but adults may be a little bored with the straightforward storyline. The film is something that is rather rare today, a hand-drawn movie, giving it whimsical look with its characters having long exaggerated limbs and buildings that seem to breathe life. This is not the gritty, dirty city that we are used to in “crime films” but a city that gives off a feeling that though the boy and the detective are in sometimes in trouble, they are never really in any danger. This animated style works well when Leo is floating across the city, weaving in and out of traffic, or floating high above the cities rooftops. At times this animated style clashes a bit with the film’s storyline, especially when the film turns serious, like when it deals with Leo’s very sick body. I saw the film with the original French dialogue version. I must admit it’s a little jarring to watch this film about American characters (how much more American can we get than a typecast New York detective) where everyone is speaking French. There is an English version with the characters voiced by Marcus D’Angelo, Melissa Disney, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jared Padalecki, and Fred Armisen that may have helped the film feel more natural.
I like this charming animated film and its sweet storyline, but coming from the team that brought one of my favorite animated films of the past ten years, I wanted the movie to be a little more substance and a little less lighthearted. Still, it’s a film that has a magical feel with a wonderful message of believing in yourself and your abilities to overcome anything. Overall, families will enjoy their flights around the city with Leo as he fights to bring justice to the streets of New York. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
“Phantom Boy” is playing exclusively in Atlanta at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
For more of Mike’s movie reviews and interviews here