NEW YORK – Onscreen, Harry Potter can do no wrong, levitating on his broom with ease, waving his wand with gusto and spitting out spells that impress all the right wizards and witches.
But in the non-magical world, self-proclaimed real-life witches have mixed feelings about the mini sorcerer, from a British man who's put a curse on the movie to others who hope Potter will help them get rid of the wicked-witch image.
"To a lot of people, it would seem harmless fun," but for practitioners of witchcraft seemingly small mistakes can be downright offensive, witch Kevin Carlyon of East Sussex, England, said in a telephone interview.
It's like putting "an upside-down crucifix outside a Christian church," he said.
Carlyon is the high priest of the White Witches, a loose worldwide organization of more than 1,600 practitioners of beneficial magic, which consists of spells to find love, wealth and good health.
In Britain, Carlyon went public with his beef with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by appearing on the BBC and other media outlets. He claimed the story of the little boy with the lightning-bolt scar perpetuates inaccuracies about witches. And his biggest complaint: The way which Harry and pals Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley race through the skies on their broomsticks.
"You would never see boys riding broomsticks," Carlyon said. "And when young ladies would go into the fields and sit astride their broomsticks, the brush would be up front."
Other witches also said Harry Potter wouldn't cut it as a real-life thaumaturge, though less insistently than Carlyon.
"We don't do things like levitating or changing pigs into cats," said witch Kelly Anne Hinkle of High Point, N.C.
What they definitely don't do is use their powers to play a high-altitude version of soccer as they do in the Potter books and film, according to Dorothy Morrison, author of Everyday Magic, The Craft and various spellbooks.
"Modern witches fly in airplanes, honey," she said.
Morrison has led her own version of Hogwart's, the school Potter attends, that teaches witchery to others. But the spells she passes on involve such earthly rituals as taking a bath in a tub filled with cinnamon to find true love or writing down an office rival's name on a piece of paper to get ahead at work.
According to Hinkle, wizards and witches use their powers to help people with such everyday hurdles as recovering from an illness, finding a date on Valentine's Day or even finding a good parking space at the mall.
But some of the witches' complaints about the movie are echoed by regular people, too. The junior wizard's hawking of Coca-Cola and plastic Mattel dolls is at odds with some parents' morals and with witches' basic law of not using magic for personal gain.
"In real witchcraft, you're not out for greed," Carlyon said.
Carlyon was so upset he put a spell on Potter's studio, Warner Bros., to make the movie tank at the box office. Even though the movie is breaking pre-opening box office records, Carlyon is confident his spell is working. There have been several small mishaps in the making of Harry Potter, from reports that author J.K. Rowling was suffering from writer's block (which she denies) to actor Daniel Radcliffe's voice changing during filming.
"It could be coincidence, or it could be Sod's Law, or Murphy's Law as you call it there," Carlyon said. "I'm sitting back and I'm having a laugh over it."
Although the movie might not have gotten all the details right, witches ultimately welcome the movie magic of the boy from Privet Lane.
"It's important for kids to know that no matter what path they take in life, they still have the magic of personal creativity and have their own individual power," Morrison said.
And despite the anti-Potter spell he cast, Carlyon saw a good side for real witches in the wizard-boy phenomenon.
"Yes, it is a brilliant film and it will start off the new generation of witches," he said. "Harry Potter will put more magic into real magic."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.