A Town Called Panic (Panique Au Village) (3 stars)

A Town Called Panic (Panique Au Village)

(PG) 77min

This insane Belgium animated feature is the big screen spin-off of the popular 2003 television series of the same name created by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. Its UK release is being championed by Hammer & Tongs, the pop promo/filmmaking outfit responsible for Son of Rambow, who, one guesses, were impressed by the film’s unbridled imagination and childish sense of fun.

Aubier and Patar have utilised old-school stop-motion animation techniques to bring to life children’s toys against various painted backdrops. The action opens in a rural farming community where two pals, Cowboy and Indian, are scratching their heads over a birthday present for a third, Horse. They hit upon building a barbecue, but accidentally order 50 million bricks, and from there things go from wacky to worse. It would be impossible to synopsise the plot, but suffice to say the western trio’s adventures involve a journey to the centre of the earth, a voyage to the bottom of the sea, a trip to the North Pole, a gigantic penguin robot piloted by mad scientists and cows raining from the sky.

All of the above unfolds with the same sense of frantic creativity young children bring to playing with their toys – literally anything can happen from one minute to the next and it does. No doubt, it’s delightful in small bursts, but despite the short running time, the non-stop action becomes exhausting. It would be better experienced in shorter chunks on broadcast on television or the internet.

GFT, Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 8 Oct.

A Town Called Panic

  • 3 stars
  • 2009
  • Belgium / Luxembourg / France
  • 1h 15min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
  • Written by: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
  • Cast: Jeanne Balibar (Voice), Nicolas Buysse (Voice), Véronique Dumont (Voice)

Gloriously silly if somewhat relentlessly frantic spin-off of the Belgian series of the same name following best friends Cowboy, Indian and Horse on a series of ridiculous adventures including an encounter with a giant robot penguin and a voyage to the centre of the earth.