Friday, December 30, 2011

Funniest Movie I've Seen In Months...

...and no, it's not Jack and Jill. I just caught "A Town Called Panic" on the Sundance Channel and guffawed my way through this engaging, surreal and very funny adventure. Below is the review from Amazon, which explains the movie fairly well... but to write off the animation as something from an aspiring film student is to really back-hand the amazing effort. The crudeness of the figures is exactly the point, adding to the charm, but there is nothing simple about the animation and set design. And where the reviewer came up with his "Cheech and Chong" reference is totally beyond me, or his snide inference that this is "marginal" filmmaking. Actually, now that I think about it, I think this guy's review is lousy! Oh well...

The story is sheer little-kid madness, and the subtitles are actually funny unto themselves (the film itself is in French). Anyhow, in a world of cynical "designed to the demographic" filmmaking, this is a real find. And yes, I am fully aware that I am finding it a couple years later than the rest of the world. The DVD is available from Amazon and you can probably still track it down on cable.

FROM AMAZON: Writer-directors St├ęphane Aubier and Vincent Patar spun this nutty feature off their Belgian TV series A Town Called Panic (Panique au Village, 2000). When Cowboy and Indian decide to build a barbecue as a birthday gift for their friend and roommate Horse, they inadvertently order a zillion bricks, rather than the 50 the project requires. The weight of so much masonry causes the house to collapse, and a string of increasingly absurd complications ensues. The stop-motion animation is much cruder than the work in Coraline or Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Even the main characters have only a few articulations, and the directors avoid close-ups, so they don't have to animate facial expressions or lip-synch dialogue. The result feels like something an aspiring film student might make using old plastic toys. Many viewers (and critics) embraced the anarchic humor of A Town Called Panic; less sanguine audience members dismissed it as the animated equivalent of an old Cheech and Chong movie: something that's funny if you're stoned, but isn't if you're not. The extras include a making-of documentary, interviews with directors Aubier and Patar, and an assortment of deleted scenes and tests--more material than such a marginal film really warrants. (Unrated, suitable for ages 10 and older: cartoon violence, ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon


Blogger Sherri said...

The only way to improve "A Town Called Panic" is to have the story in-progress delivered by a 9-yr old. My niece and her dad were watching this last year when I arrived about halfway through the show.

I asked for a summary of plot and her description of the show was so hilarious that I was sure it was just her challenge in describing the plot. Nope, she had it down. It was just that great.

Great movie!

10:11 PM  

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