A boy. A cop. A reporter. A crime. A supervillain, and a phantom. Thankfully, there’s nothing too regular about French animation Phantom Boy, a pleasing fantasy feature for kids everywhere.

Leo (Alex Gagnol), confined to a hospital due to a tragic illness, discovers he can separate from his body for short bursts of time, proceeding to fly about the city and witness some none too savoury events. His cop friend Alex (Edouard Baer), dismissed by his superiors, together with intrepid reporter Mary (Audrey Tautou) form an unlikely team to put a halt to a masked villain’s terrorizing of New York City.

The big bad ultimately the film’s most memorable aspect, along with the lithe animation of Leo as he floats about the town, the apparently disfigured nasty holding everyone to ransom has all the comic Claw-esque hallmarks of serials past, the performer and those around him clearly having no end of fun with the material. An especially enjoyable scene as his booming voice attempts to lay out a list of demands amidst the fumbling of some hapless goons, replete with a laugh-out-loud huff and puff from the shadowy baddy, will be a great deal of fun for kids as well as their more adult counterparts.

The film as a whole is freshly charming, though knows when to lay on the feels, and thickly so. A scene midway between Leo and his sister, seemingly innocuous at first yet heralding a devastating emotional impact later on, grounds so much of the film and what could otherwise be a more casual treatment of its serious subject matter that nonetheless benefits from frequent moments of levity throughout.

Phantom Boy, due mostly to one very good guy and one very bad guy, for very different reasons captivating in equal measure, succeeds as a blithe joy for all ages that will especially appeal to the younger ones.

Phantom Boy is screening at the Sydney Film Festival