I watched A Town Called Panic with no idea what I was in for. I had forgotten the description I read a couple of months ago that made me curious, other than a vague recollection that it was animated. I was bowled over as Belgian creators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s unfettered imagination and creativity unfolded before me for 75 minutes.
The residents in Panic, which were first seen in five-minute adventures on television in 2000, are the generic figures found in a young boy’s toy box, which contributes to its universal appeal. The main characters are roommates Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. They all live together and Horse is the most sensible one of the bunch. Their neighbors are Steve the farmer, his wife, and a barnyard full of animals, some of which act human.
The film is a series of hilarious, surreal adventures sure to delight any age. As it opens, Cowboy and Indian have forgotten Horse’s birthday. Passing on their normal present of a hat, they decide to build him a barbeque, but through a mix-up ordering online they end up receiving 50 million bricks, which they have no room for. Cowboy and Indian’s plan to hide them turns disastrous.
After a wild birthday party with their friends, the trio discovers the walls to their house stolen. They attempt to rebuild, but due to Cowboy and Indian’s lazy work ethic they don’t get very far and in the morning they find the new walls stolen as well. Their efforts to apprehend the thieves take them on a path that leads to the Earth’s core, Antarctica, and the ocean floor. All the while, the gags and silliness are unrelenting.
Although it looks like child’s play, which is part of its charm, the film took a great deal of effort to create because Aubier and Patar use puppetoon animation, bringing the toys to life by constantly changing or moving the static pieces. After finding English-dubbed versions of a few shorts, I prefer hearing the characters in their original French.
A Town Called Panic had me laughing out loud alone throughout, which is a rare occurrence and speaks to how funny I found it. To demonstrate my high esteem for the film, I can’t wait to see it again and share it with friends. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys silly and I hope it receives the recognition it richly deserves.
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