A Town Called Panic (2009) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

A Town Called Panic (2009)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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Danny LIKEThere are many things you could say about the sleep hamlet of panic, though, outside of nighttime, sleepy probably isn't one of them. It's a story of the chaotic events that ensue when two friends decide to build their roommate a barbecue instead of buying him a cap like they usually do.

The roommates are Cowboy, Indian (the Native American kind), and Horse, and they have the personalities of Curly, Larry, and Moe, respectively.

They're played by facsimiles of the plastic toy figures most of us grew up around (or know our parents grew up around), and the claymation world they inhabit is a strange but beautiful pastiche of junk store charm. It's the furthest thing from seemless, as you can see every smudge and every bit of glue involved.

Which only adds to the charm. In the planning of their barbecue build, Cowboy and Indian realize that they'll need fifty bricks for the structure; an accident with the keyboard orders them fifty million bricks. The fallout from this forms the rest of the movie, which results in the town's near-destruction and a chase across the planet.

It's such a deceptively simple movie, too. After their living space is destroyed by the bricks (never hide 50 million bricks on top of your house), Cowboy, Indian, and Horse try to rebuild, only to find their new walls stolen away from some green-suited baddies from a nearby pond. One of them, Gerard, leads the trio bthrough the Earth's core, into a precision snowball firing tank dressed to look like a penguin, and finally to the bottom of the ocean where Gerard and his family are building a massive brick dream house.

A lot of the charm comes from the understatement and silliness inherent in the plot. By the time you reach the climax with Gerard and his family housed up in a farmer's house where wave after wave of  cows are being catapulted in to try and drive them out, it doesn't feel abrupt or unexpected in the slightest.

There are plenty of interpretations that you can try to assign the movie, though it's important to keep in mind that it's based on a popular Belgian kids show.

But, I mean-- what country do you think of when you have a cowboy and an indian? They're definitely ADD, making a mess, refusing to clean up, but jovial guys just trying to do good. Mind you, they don't really learn their lesson, either.

There are more interpretations I can cycle through (frankly, explaining the events of the movie detracts from the joyous anarchy, and its choice of representative symbols opens itself up for this). I spent a good few minutes outlining how the film can be seen as a metaphor for Belgian anxiety in regards to the history and entry into the European Union; the main trio are portrayed as multi-ethnic but friendly (much like Belgium's Flemish/French/German groups), and their experience with Gerard and his clan can be seen as xenophobic and a tinge selfish. Through many assorted conflicts and a game of one-upmanship, they finally find peace and harmony in cooperation.

But I'm stretching and I know it. You can read whatever you want into A Town Called Panic; it's fun, slight, and zips along. It brings to mind all the joyous frivolity of movies like Wallace and Gromit and other Aardman endeavors, and it's well worth the click or two to see.

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A Town Called Panic (2009)

This film is currently available on DVD and Netflix Instant.

Directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar
Starring Stéphane Aubier and Bruce Ellison

Posted by Danny

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