A Town Called Panic [panique Au Village] Review
By Rich Cline
Extremely silly and often very funny too, this quirky stop-animated romp might have been better as a half-hour short, because there's not really much to it.
But it does manage to keep us chuckling with a continual stream of throwaway gags.
Cowboy and Indian (Aubier and Ellison) are like bickering kids in the home they share with Horse (Patar). Their neighbours Steven and Janine (Poelvoorde and Dumont) are highly strung but loyal friends, and they get rather annoyed when Cowboy and Indian accidentally order 50 million bricks to build a barbecue for Horse's birthday. Then the house walls start disappearing, and the culprit seems to be a team of underwater thieves. So Cowboy, Indian and Horse head off to stop them, ending up at one point inside a gigantic mechanical penguin on the North Pole.
The plot makes little real sense, but then it doesn't try to. The film has a freewheeling structure that makes it feel like it was created by 10-year-olds, as it meanders from one fantastical scene to another. And at the centre, Cowboy and Indian are like a Belgian Beavis and Butt-head, cracking goofy jokes as they do one stupid thing after another. There's also a romantic subplot as Horse tries to woo the sexy red-head music teacher Mme Longree (Balibar).
What makes this colourful film watchable is its deranged sense of humour and deliberately ridiculous animation. These are tiny plastic toys brought to life with inventive touches that are simple and effective. And the voice cast adds plenty of sharp personality. There isn't anything to it, really - not a speck of subtext or irony. It's just a zany romp featuring a bunch of boneheads. But it is absurdly funny.
It's also somewhat inconsistent, which is why it would have made a better short, because the humour could have been more finely focussed. As is, the film is all over the place, then a crazed South Park style of comedy finds a big laugh in the most unexpected place. It's also so insanely inventive that we can't help but be amused all the way through it.
Facts and Figures
Production compaines: La Parti Production, Made in Productions, Beast Productions, Gebeka Films, Les Films du GrognonRTBF, Les films du grognon, RTBF
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Cast & Crew
Director: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Screenwriter: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Starring: Benoît Poelvoorde as Steven (Voice), Jeanne Balibar as Madame Longrée, Nicolas Buysse as Mouton, Jean-Paul, François De Brigode as Journaliste sportif, Véronique Dumont as Janine, Bruce Ellison as Indien, Christine Grulois as Vache, Étudiante, Frédéric Jannin as Gendarme, Gérard, Livreur de briques, Christelle Mahy as Poule, Eric Muller as Rocky Gaufres, Étudiant chorale 1, François Neyken as Cochon, Vincent Patar as Cheval, Maman Atlante, Pipou as Rire de Michel, Franco Piscopo as Ours, David Ricci as Âne, Michel, Ben Tesseur as Scientifique 1, Alexandre von Sivers as Scientifique 2, Stéphane Aubier as Cowboy, Max Briquenet, Mr Ernotte (Voice), Bouli Lanners as Facteur, Simon, Vache