Friday, 24 June 2011

A Town Called Panic

A Town Called Panic (2009) is a Belgian-Luxembourg-French stop-motion animated film directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. According to Wikipedia, it was also the first stop-motion animation to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

The story follows a cowboy (Cowboy) and an Indian (Indian) as they try to find a birthday present for their friend Horse – who is a dog. Ha! Just kidding, he’s a horse. When their order of 50 bricks to make him a barbecue for his birthday accidentally turns into an order of 50 billion, a series of wacky and confusing incidences occur with seemingly no end in sight.

Well, where do I begin? The film is basically 75 minutes of this:

In fact, I would say that the film is about 158% crazier and for the first 15 minutes you’re left wondering how on earth they can keep this pace up for over an hour. To be frank, it’s exhausting, because I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. One particular moment that had me grinning like a loon, was when Horse received a letter and he announced “It’s from my brother-in-law.” Whenever there is any let-up though, (which doesn’t happen that often), I found myself willing something to happen as it seemed totally out of character.

Speaking of characters, they do actually talk in that mad half-shouty, half-screeching way all the time, just like they do in the Cravendale advert, and the fact they’re speaking in French somehow makes it more hilarious. There are a few characters (mainly women) who aren’t suffering from hearing loss though, so it doesn’t grate on you as much as it probably should.

This film is very popular with the children in our film clubs, but you don’t have to be three feet tall to enjoy it. Apart from the sheer escapism of it, there are some moments in it that adults can relate to. For example, at Horse’s birthday party (complete with DJ and disco lights in the living room of his house), the farmer gets a little tipsy and starts threatening the postman (or is it the policeman?) who is dancing with his wife. Not a lot of children would ‘get’ this beyond the silly drunken man causing a scene, so it was a nice little touch for us older viewers.

The animation is basic to say the least. Cowboy and Indian walk like the soldiers in Toy Story on acid, as they have the same stands holding them up. There are little to no expressions on their faces, beyond mild terror and the backdrops look like a project I tried to make in primary school when I was 10. However, this just makes the film more magical and it somehow wouldn’t be the same without it.

You can view the whole film on YouTube, if you don’t mind watching it in six parts, so you really have no excuse not to watch this film.

5 out of 5.

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