A Town Called Panic

Director(s): Stèphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Starring: Stèphane Aubier, Jeanne Balibar, Bruce Ellison and Nicolas Buysse
Released: Oct 2010

Click here of A Town Called Panic Official Trailer

I think we can all agree that French is the silliest language of all time.
This perspective might take some convincing, and the best way to do this would be for audiences to watch this wonderful exercise in absurdity and the ridiculous, made all the more hilarious by the panicky french voices.

The plot:
In a small plastic toy town, characters are infused with a sense of panic. Cowboy, Indian and Horse undergo a series of adventures, taking them to frozen wastelands, underwater and to the centre of the earth. And all the while, Horse is trying to make it to his piano lesson.

Using plastic toys in much the same fashion of Robot Chicken, A Town Called Panic is filmed in a very different style from most you’ve seen. At only 75 mins, it feels like an extended cartoon than an actual film. However, this in no way detracts from the entertainment factor. It’s a bit like watching someone drink a few liters too many of red bull, then being let loose in a zoo/construction site/imagination land.

It might feel disjointed to some that don’t ‘get it’, as this is clearly aimed at a specific audience, the kind that enjoys referring to themselves as random. Horse has a love interest in Madame Longreè, a music teacher who is also a horse and gifted mechanic. The farmer, Steven, is ridiculously hot-tempered, which is that much more hilarious in French. And for some reason, there are a group of scientists that are using their research and martial arts skills to throw snowballs at defenseless animals.

The plot is ridiculous, opening with Cowboy and Indian planning a birthday surprise for Horse, but evolves quickly into something akin to an epic Monty Python sketch. It builds up gradually, which is fortunate. Little things like the fact that Horse can talk and drive a car strike the audience as hilarious at first, but quickly become completely acceptable and natural in the light of later, more ridiculous, events.

What is so especially admiral about the film is how naturally humor is integrated into the narrative. As unusual as it is to say about a movie that features a giant robotic penguin, the comedy never feels forced. It seems almost a by-product of the events which are unfolding, and the audience jut happens to be able to see the funny side of things. There are no cheeky break-the-fourth-wall moments, where the crew try to draw your attention to jokes that have just been made. This is a common staple in many big budget Hollywood comedies, and its absence is pleasantly refreshing here.

There is no doubt that this is a niche film, one that will only appeal to people of certain sensibilities. However, A Town Called Panic deserves recognition for how different it is to so many modern films. It revels in its old-fashioned film-making style, and also in its bizarre I-don’t-care-what-you-think sense of humour. Brash, silly and completely idiosyncratic, the adventure of Cowboy, Indian and Horse is a treasure for those looking for something a little different.

Rating: 9/10

Give me back my walls!” – Horse

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • A Town Called Panic began as a TV show which is distributed by Aardman Studios. Each episode is only about 5 minutes long
  • The Cravendale milk ads (seen here) are incredibly similar, in both style and tone, to this film.

This film is kind of like:

  • A massive in-joke that everybody gets


  • Trying to explain a dream you had after eating 64 slices of American Cheese

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. When the scientists hit the deer is the funniest bit. Scheach!!

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