Who doesn’t want a French stop motion animated film whose main characters are little figurines your kid brother played with when he was a child? I’m sure you have been screaming to your mother way past the time of normal mother screaming that you want a movie based on your figurines. Not some computer animated or live action film, but your actual figurines that include a horse that is way bigger than the rest of your bunch, a Cowboy, an Indian, a Policeman (named Policeman), a farm, scuba divers and a myriad of non speaking farm animals. Well take a break from screaming at your mother for this impossible movie, because a bunch of French guys have already made it for you. I present to you A Town Called Panic.
This film makes no sense. This last statement does not mean that it isn’t enjoyable. In fact I rather liked being in this slapdash anarchic world. But nothing happens that you would ever expect. Just to give you a taste: all of the figurines talk in a weirdly high-pitched voice (except for the lady Horse… her voice is as beautiful as her mane), some animals can talk while others cannot or choose not to, they can build a house’s walls in a day, there is a massive robotic penguin that shoots snowballs out of its head, and they have an undersea adventure right after being stuck in a volcano. Do see now why this film makes no sense? This seems to have literally come out of a child’s head, much like the famous comic Axe Cop does. (what an awesome comic that is… so funny.) And I loved every minute of it.
I do have a special place in my heart for stop motion animated films. I think that the time and the effort the people put into a stop motion film imbues it with their passion. These filmmakers are passionate. And they have a real sense of color. The settings are sparse, but they just pop right off the screen. For instance the romantic interest, Madame Longree, of Horse is a music teacher. Horse goes to the music school in order to pick up his neighbor’s kids. When he enters the school, a character named Simon is playing this piano. But the piano wraps around him in a bean shape. So his little figurine is moving around at warp speed playing this huge amoeba like piano. I thought that was genius. This film is full of little things that seem a bit odd, but fit perfectly with the odd story line.
After awhile the film does become a little too much. After thirty minutes of this anarchic madness, I wanted to pause it for just a moment and take a breath. But this film was made for children and they have a tolerance for craziness that an adult just can’t handle anymore. If I was a child when I saw this film, I would have watched it over and over again. It is a cute film full of passion and large mechanic penguins that throw snowballs out of its head. Do I need to say anymore?