A Town Called Panic
Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar
France, 2009, 75mins, PG
The creators of the legendary Cravendale milk adverts are back with ‘A Town called Panic’, a hyperactive stop motion animation by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, based on the Belgian animated cult TV series “Panique au Village”.
‘A Town called Panic’ is not a film best summed up by a plot synopsis. The truly original narrative goes on all sorts of tangents, leaving the audience no option but to become immersed in the world of ridiculousness that Aubier and Patar have so wonderfully created.
Three friends, ‘Cowboy’, ‘Horse’ and ‘Indian’ (whose looks match their names) live together in a village of animated plastic toys. Cowboy and Indian discover that it is Horse’s birthday and decide to surprise him with a barbeque, which ends in disaster when Cowboy and Indian accidentally order fifty million bricks instead of fifty (easy mistake). The bricks are stacked on top of the house which inevitably collapses rendering Horse, Indian and Cowboy homeless. The trio begin to build a new house out of the millions of bricks, but complications arise when some sort of strange evil fish Martian starts stealing their precious walls. Needless to say surreal adventures take over as the story travels to the center of the earth, the frozen tundra and an underwater universe that hasn’t decided whether gravity exists. Meanwhile, Horse battles with the ongoing crisis of attending Madame Longree’s music lessons, with whom he is besotted.
The eccentricity of the characters and the jittery, fast paced style of the animation mean that audience attention is never lost over seventy five minutes despite the constantly changing scenery and wacky subplots. Inventive slap stick sequences and hysterical characters such as ‘Steven,’ a constantly outraged farmer with terrible luck, keep the laughs rolling throughout. It seems that in this world literally anything can happen and no explanation or reasoning is required.
The film is a completely different experience to that of Pixar animations. Aubier and Patar have managed to create an animated feature about toys with human mannerisms, that is totally different to that of the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy.
Nevertheless, I fear that the film will struggle for box office success in Britain due to subtitles which struggle to keep up with the pace of the film, often skip background dialogue and are difficult for young children to follow.
However I would strongly recommend this film for adults as well as children, as it is a truly unique experience of quirky animated comedy that leaves the audience with the feeling of having witnessed a totally bonkers world.