I don’t know about you, but I miss being a kid. As a thirty year-old man it’s generally considered unacceptable to stretch out on your belly in front of the telly, eating Smarties out of a bowl and crudely manipulating a disparate range of small figurines to play out a fanciful and naive narrative that wouldn’t suggest a career in the creative arts awaited. Frankly, drinking a carton of milk mid-morning with a Nice biscuit would attract the wrong kind of attention at work, and Dairylea and Hula Hoop sandwiches aren’t really the cornerstone of a nutritious adult diet. I do religiously stick to eating Monster Munch (Roast Beef, since you asked) as often as possible, however.
Thankfully, not all grown-ups are as self-conscious as I am. A Town Called Panic or, to give it its French name, Panique au Village, bears all the charming hallmarks of childish innocence. In an era when animation is extending into new levels of reality and even new dimensions, Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s 75-minute work superficially resembles a student’s first stab at stop motion animation.
Patently this is deliberate, and contributes enormously to the enjoyment of the piece. The complete randomness of the figures, the ‘say what you see’ names – the principle characters are co-habitants Horse, Cowboy and Indian – and the simplicity of the storyline make A Town Called Panic instantly accessible and thoroughly enjoyable.
The tagline for the movie is ‘They came… they saw… they panicked’, and the story unfolds from the honest mistake of ordering several million too many bricks to build a birthday barbecue (we’ve all done it), leading to property destruction, a series of thefts, wrongful arrests and an epic trek across frozen wastelands to a parallel universe underwater. The basic premise for many movies, with a bit of romance and a great deal of community spirit thrown in.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, A Town Called Panic has already been given the thumbs up of the advertising industry. The recent Cravendale adverts show a striking resemblance to the film and were likely inspired by an enthusiast of animation from Belgium and Luxembourg who anticipated the distinctive style somehow building loyalty to a dairy brand.
I’m pretty childish at the best of times, so I loved this. If you genuinely fancy an escape for an hour and a bit, seek this out. Kids will love it, and might learn a bit of French at the same time.
A Town Called Panic is out in the UK 8th October 2010.
Director: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Cast: Stéphane Aubier, Jeanne Balibar, Bruce Ellison, Vincent Patar
Runtime: 75 min
Country: Belgium, Luxembourg, France