Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weird Wednesday: A Town Called Panic (2009)

Stop-motion animation is an interesting thing. It's often very time consuming and lends itself well to animated stories that add a certain level of 'realism' since we are essentially watching puppets rather than drawn images. I love films like Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and ParaNorman partly because a great deal of work goes into creating each individual frame. The dedication, care, and love that goes into working with stop-motion adds to the emotional appeal of it. Chicken Run was worked on for four years leading up to its release. A Town Called Panic (2009) was made in under a year with very crude looking characters and animation. I still loved it.

Starting as a television series in 2000, A Town Called Panic (2009) was made as a spin-off film and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009 as the first ever stop-motion film to be shown. The show was very crudely animated with episodes lasting about 5 minutes and following the adventures of Cowboy, Indian, and Horse (who look like cheap toy figures) in their small village. The film has the same town and characters while adding some more and increasing the scale and of course the length. The stop-motion look is a mixture of Robot Chicken and Gumby rather than the finely crafted detail of a Wallace and Gromit adventure.

Cowboy and Indian want to get something nice for Horse's birthday so they set out to build him a barbecue. A barbecue needs bricks and what better place to get bricks than the internet, right? They accidentally order 50 million bricks instead of the desired 50 which sets in motion a series of bizarre events full of zany madcap adventure (Fun fact: most madcap is zany). The film plays out a lot like a classic Looney Tunes episode with plenty of slapstick but it's also full of surreal jokes and gags.

Though a french-language film, it's actually co-produced between Belgium, Luxenbourg, and France. Don't worry though, Netflix has subtitles. Much of the story is carried well visually but it does have good voice-acting and killer dialogue. The soundtrack, much like the film, is all over the place with mambo, garage rock, and Phil Spector. At an hour and 15 minutes, it flies by pretty quickly and I wanted more. Good thing there are 20 episodes of the show. Weird and wonderful. Check out the ridiculously epic trailer:

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