A Town Called Panic [panique Au Village] Movie Review
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.