Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Town Called Panic (2009, French) ****

It is rare to see a movie that generates such unmitigated delight, and even rarer to find one that you can watch with your kid.  This French, animated movie is a great introduction for a kid into watching foreign films with subtitles, and it is fun for the whole family.
“A Town Called Panic” (Panique au Village) started as a Belgian tv series, with 5-minute animated shorts.  What we watched was their full-length feature, featuring the same characters, including Horse, Cowboy, Indian, and a host of other characters who are all little plastic toys filmed in stop-motion animation.  These characters create the most bizarre and entertaining story, which as it unfolds seems like it is straight out of the imagination of either a child or an opium smoker.
I think the best thing about “A Town Called Panic” is the sense of unbounded imagination it exudes.  The story feels as if a child is making it up as it goes along, but there are hilarious reminders that children are always observing the adult world.  In one scene, the characters have a big party for Horse’s birthday, with some of the characters playing poker in the kitchen, and some getting belligerently drunk in the living room.  The next day, they are hung over.  Trust me, a hung over plastic cowboy is something you need to see!

4 stars out of 5

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