A haunting concept gets tangled up with a goofy comic-book plot in this French animated tale from the Oscar-nominated A Cat in Paris team of Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli. In New York City, master criminal The Face (Vincent D’Onofrio, revisiting his Men in Black voice) threatens to take down the city with a computer virus, opposed by oft-disciplined police detective Alex Tanner (Jared Padalecki) and 11-year-old cancer patient Leo (Marcus D’Angelo), who can invisibly, intangibly leave his body and fly around the city when he’s unconscious. There’s a rich metaphor in the idea of a sick, imaginative boy who turns his illness into a way to become a hero; it’s a surprisingly catch-in-the-throat moment when Leo says, “Sometimes I forget how heavy my body is.” But much of the story-line resorts to broad slapstick involving The Face’s hapless henchmen, like it’s an episode of the vintage Batman TV series. While Felcioli’s unique visual style makes this a welcome alternative to cookie-cutter CGI, Phantom Boy never reaches its full emotional potential when the countdown clock for the villain’s plan gets equal billing with the countdown clock for Leo’s life.
Director: Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol
Producer: Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Emmanuel Bernard, Michel Nicolas and Tim Martens
Cast: Fred Armisen, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jared Padalecki, Melissa Disney, Dana Snyder and Marcus D'angelo