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Will Schiffelbein

by: Will Schiffelbein
April 22nd, 2010

Rating: 4/5

Director: Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar
Writer: Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar
Cast: Bruce Ellison, Stephane Aubier, and Vincent Patar

Generally, I avoid animated films. I'm not sure what it is about them, but 9/10 they simply don't work for me. Most are geared towards younger audiences, and I have a difficult time enjoying those. The others tend to be silly at best and fail to do anything unique. However, animation provides a medium that traditional filmmaking can never approach in terms of potential. With animation you can create worlds purely from imagination, and yet few films can actually pull this off.

However, A TOWN CALLED PANIC doesn't only create this world. It revels in it. It abandons the burdens of convention and instead embraces the world it's created.

A TOWN CALLED PANIC is an animated film which is derived from a series of internet clips by Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar. These two returned to write and direct the film, bringing their energy and creativity to the project. The film's narrative is absolutely bonkers. In fact, I'd need a complex series of flow charts and an easel to adequately convey how absolutely crazy this film's plot is.

The film begins with Cowboy and Indian, two buddies who forget the birthday of their best friend, Horse. Stressing out, they decide the best course of action is to build him a barbeque out of bricks. By a stroke of bad luck in the form of a misplaced coffee cup, the bumbling duo accidentally orders millions upon millions of bricks that show up the next day.

From there, the gang gets tied up in underwater escapades, giant snowball fights with robot penguins, and hijinks galore. The film plays out like a narrative Rube Goldberg machine, with each incident inspiring another larger domino to fall. The actions of each character are absolutely hilarious, ludicrous, and in another dimension of reality entirely.

The style of animation is extremely creative. The filmmaker made the choice to construct their world as though a young child were playing with almost antique toys. In fact, the style of animation plays into the narrative quite well as it plays out as though a young child were making up the story as it moves along. In essence, this film is TOY STORY told by a child. It demonstrates the imagination of children through a medium that is ambiguous with its intentions. It isn't geared toward children, primarily because it's entirely in French. And yet, it isn't aimed entirely at adults because of its childlike nature. Even still, the film straight up works.

I can't do much more to praise this film than I already have. It's got its fair share of flaws, as there is a lull in the insanity somewhere around the 2/3 marker. Also, the film's success will depend entirely on whether or not you buy into the film's ludicrous nature from the beginning. But if you fall into their trap, you're going to have a great time.

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