Monday, March 11, 2013

A Town Called Panic (2009)

Directed by: Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar
Runtime: 75 minutes
Language: French
Availabe for instant streaming on Netflix, and for free on Hulu
3/5*

Recently I've been catching up on all the Oscar nominated films so I haven't really done a Netflix recommendation in a while, so I thought I'd do a quick one.

This film may look weird to you, and it kind of is, but it also happens to be a lot of fun.  It's a stop motion animated film from Belgium about a Cowboy (named Cowboy), an Indian (named Indien), and a Horse (named... you guessed it... Horse).

It's like a very different version of Toy Story, if it were made by children actually playing with the toys rather than adults using computers to animate them.  It's like someone found some old toys lying around and decided to have a bit of fun by making a goofy, funny, yet family friendly stop motion animated film.

Most of the toys have the little plastic base so they can always stand upright, but you can move the arms around, and if you remember playing with these toys as a kid you remember that anything could happen, and these toys went everywhere (under water, on a rock sitting dangerously above lava at the earth's core, and somewhere near the north pole with lots of snow).

It's Horse's birthday and Cowboy and Indien want to make him a barbecue made out of brick for his present.  In order to do that they apparently need exactly 50 bricks, but of course, because they are clumsy people they accidentally order 50 million bricks.  Needless to say, after they build him the barbecue they have a few left over which they decide to store in a bundle on top of their house (because where else would you store that many spare bricks?).

Of course the house crumbles under the weight of the bricks, but because they have so many bricks left over they can easily rebuild their house.  They begin with the walls, and after a hard days work they go to sleep in their neighbor's barn only to wake up and see that someone has stolen their walls.  They try to build them again, and again they are stolen.

The trio must head out on an adventure to find the thieves and bring back their walls so they can finish their house.

There is a bit of Looney Tunes, the Marx Brothers, and the Three Stooges all rolled into one in this film, with Horse being the more adult figure and Cowboy and Indien being the two goofballs that keep getting them into more and more trouble.  There is something to be said for a film that manages to be so different, so fun and always entertaining, all while not overstaying its welcome (with a runtime just over an hour).

While I'm sure that it's probably funnier if you understand French for the dialogue and goofy sounding voices, this film is still funny and charming even if you don't.  If you're looking for something creative, but don't want anything too deep, this film is good-natured fun in a short package.