A Town Called Panic (2009)

A Town Called Panic (2009)

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Nice piano. Convenient for even a horse to play.
Nice piano. Convenient for even a horse to play.

Twitter Plot Summary: When Cowboy and Indian realise they’ve forgotten Horse’s birthday, they plan to surprise him. It goes wrong.

Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy/Family/Fantasy

Director: Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar.

Key Cast: Stephane Aubier, Jeanne Balibar, Nicolas Buysse, Bruce Ellison, Vincent Patar, Benoit Poelvoorde

Five Point Summary:

1. A talking horse in a shower? Now I’ve seen everything.
2. A website solely for selling bricks? Madness.
3. Leaving the bricks there isn’t going to end well.
4.  A pearl… altar?
5. How do you get people to leave your house? Throw pigs and cows at them, naturally.

If you live in the UK and have watched an advert break within the last few years (apparently between 2007 and 2010) then you will have probably seen the Cravendale adverts featuring toys of a pirate, a cow and a cyclist and their crazy adventures to acquire some tasty Cravendale, shouting ‘MILK! MIIIILLLKKK!!!’ at everybody. If you do recall these adverts and you liked them then you’ll more than likely enjoy A Town Called Panic, a 2009 movie spinoff from the TV series that aired for a single season in 2000.

Cowboy, Indian and Horse all live together in the town known as Panic. It’s Horse’s birthday and Cowboy and Indian have forgotten. But never fear because Internet shopping is your friend! Jumping online while Horse is out, they end up ordering 17 million bricks by mistake. The bricks turn up in a ridiculous number of trucks and they have to hid them all before Horse gets home. Where’s the logical place to hide 17 million bricks from view, you might ask? Well, literally on top of your house is probably not the best of ideas. When the bricks inevitably come crashing down and take out most of the town, their attempts at rebuilding their house are paused by strange creatures stealing their walls. And thus, the adventure begins.

Of the three, Horse appears to be the adult whilst Cowboy and Indian are childish and likely to make impromptu and potentially catastrophic decisions. Horse has a love interest in Madame Longree – another Horse, for the record – and his attempts to woo her are often cut short by Cowboy and Indian’s exploits. Madame Longree is desperate (well, kind of) for Horse to attend one of her music classes, but due to a variety of genuinely valid reasons (becoming stuck at the centre of the Earth being one of them, for example), he’s constantly having to make excuses.

This is what happens when you accidentally order 17 million bricks online.
This is what happens when you accidentally order 17 million bricks online.

Unsurprisingly the notion of panic is a constant thread throughout the film. Everybody reacts with fear to almost every situation and there’s much shouting to be heard. In any other animated feature this kind of ridiculously OTT voice acting would be irritating, but in this case it fits perfectly with the insane story and setting. It’s all in French, by the way, so that might deter some potential viewers.

It’s completely insane and all the better for it. You can quickly ignore the fact that it’s a stop motion animation and that the characters are actually poorly articulated toys just because it’s so silly. It has that surreal, dreamlike insanity approach to narrative and fully explores the notion that, in animation (and to an extent, when children play with toys), there is no limit to your imagination. Case in point, other than the aforementioned journey to the centre of the Earth, our trio also visit the sea bed and the North Pole. Why? Because they can. It doesn’t really help them with their brick clear-up project, mind, but that’s a minor point. When your key goal in a project is to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, A Town Called Panic works just fine.

Favourite scene: The 17 million bricks are hidden. On top of the house.

Quote: “Delicious toast! Excellent coffee!”

Silly Moment:  All of it – it’s just crazy.

Score: 3.5/5

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