(No longer in theaters)
Jan 29, 2010
The Belgian animated feature, A Town Called Panic, plays as if one day its directors, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, smoked very strong hashish and stumbled on a chest of old plastic toys—a little cowboy and an Indian in a headdress, a horse, some cows and pigs and a farmer (and his wife), and piles of other bric-a-brac—and free-associated a demented scenario against cutout scenery about roommates Cowboy and Indian wanting 50 bricks for a barbecue for Horse’s birthday and accidentally ordering 50 million and wrecking their house and rebuilding it but having the walls stolen every night by sea creatures and chasing them underwater and getting captured by mad scientists and on and on ad absurdum … and hilarium. The blurty voices and jerky animation recall South Park (which I mean as a high compliment), but the film has a transcendent silliness all its own. Kids might not go for it; all the subtitled French babble could be bewildering. The rest of us will want whatever Aubier and Patar were smoking.
Aubier and Patar’s film is not, as it may appear at first, animated by traditional stop-motion; rather, it employs a painstaking technique called puppetoon, in which dozens of models of each character in different positions are swapped in and out of scenes and photographed as needed.