“Wendell & Wild” has a gently insane macabre kick. It’s the new stop-motion fairy tale from director Henry Selick, who in the 30 years since “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has made just four features — “Coraline,” “Monkeybone,” “James and the Giant Peach” and now this one. Selick’s movies have the logic of dollhouse dreams, the handmade elegance of slapstick surrealist puppet shows, and the rollicking Guignol spirit of monster comedies for 10-year-olds.

Selick co-wrote “Wendell & Wild” with Jordan Peele, who is one of its voice-actor costars, and the movie is a casually unfolding parade of unabashed horror-camp nuttiness, starting with the amusement park in its early scenes, a carnival of the damned where black-and-white Picasso cutouts crash on roller-coasters and the whole damn fairground turns out to be perched on the belly of Buffalo Belzer (voiced by Ving Rhames), a kind of George Clinton meets P.T. Barnum meets the devil figure whose two sons, Wendell and Wild (played with snappish loudmouth glee by Keegan-Michael Key and Peele, reuniting for this film), live atop his scalp, where they use a giant tube of hair cream to keep his follicles in place.

They also get high ingesting gobs of the gooey white cream, which turns their eyeballs into psychedelic pinwheels. If that sounds like the kind of thing that happens for absolutely no good reason but is fun anyway, welcome to the underground bat-house vibe of “Wendell & Wild.” I approve, in theory, of any movie that has a “puppet fabrication supervisor,” but “Wendell & Wild” is an animated caper of momentary delights that doesn’t exert much emotional  grip.

Artful as it can be, there is often a curious airlessness to stop-motion animation. I have fond memories of everything from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to “Coraline” (Selick’s best film), yet in recent years the visual design of a lot of stop motion has become so ornate and precious and filigreed that the stories can wind up precious and filigreed too. “Wendell & Wild” actually has a few things to say (about teenage grief, the privatization of prisons, and raising your parents from the dead), but mostly it’s content to fly off in all elegantly cracked directions.

A nattering comedy team, always lightly at each other’s throats, Wendell and Wild are like a funk version of Laurel and Hardy, but the central character in the movie is Kat Elliott (Lyric Ross), an adolescent orphan with two big green puffs of hair on either side of her head; they’re the most joyful thing about her. As an 8-year-old, Kat lost her folks in a car accident when they drove off a bridge, and she’s now brimming with demons, literal and spiritual. Wendell and Wild are demons, and since they’re desperate to get off their father’s noggin and join the land of the living, they make a deal to bring Kat’s parents back to life, which they can accomplish with that magic hair cream. Just as it grows hair, it can turn corpses into bespoke zombies (or in the case of Kat’s parents, restore them to slightly ghoulie versions of their former sweet selves).  

The movie is set near the town of Rust Bank, which became a ghost town after the Rust Bank Brewery, owned by Kat’s parents, burned down. The Klax Korps, the corrupt real-estate consortium that caused the inferno, now wants to buy the whole town back at a fire-sale price. The plot is a class-war allegory, though it’s more than a little scattered. Kat is a Hellmaiden, which is just what it sounds like — a hellbent girl who takes guff from no one — but I wish the film gave her a dimension besides that and her general aura of sadness. The lively soundtrack is powered by everything from dub reggae to Living Color’s “Cult of Personality,” and for a kids’ movie the comedy walks the edge, with vivid gags about snot, bugs that get smooshed to goo, and human characters who get murdered. I enjoyed the dastardly priest who comes back to life as a stained-glass head in a cardinal’s mitre stuck in the middle of his chest. But “Wendell & Wild” is a movie where you may relish the prospect of owning the action figures more than you do the movie itself.

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