Review: A Town Called Panic DVD

STUDIO: Zeitgeist | DIRECTORS: Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar
RELEASE DATE: 7/20/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.98
BONUSES: featurettes, video interviews with directors, stop-motion animation contest winner’s short, deleted scenes, test shot comparisons
SPECS: NR | 75 min. | Foreign language animation | 2.35:1 widescreen | stereo | French with optional English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

A Town Called Panic is a highly energetic French stop-motion animation comedy — how many of those have you seen? — that plays like a Jacques Tati film by way of Jules Verne. Can you picture that? Probably not, but the makers of this inspired piece of lunacy sure can.

The film offers us three protagonists — an Indian, a cowboy and a horse — who set out on a globe-trotting, surreal adventure after they accidentally order 50 million bricks from an online supplier (they only wanted 50 bricks, but their computer jammed), which directly leads to the destruction of their home. The trio’s subsequent travels take them to a bubbly underwater kingdom and a frozen wasteland, where they encounter a giant mechanical penguin that shoots snowballs.

These Journey to the Center of the Earth-like adventures are played out in an oh-so-French fashion, wherein a sip of wine, a bit of cheese (or waffles, in this case) and a chance at romance is always a possibility.

The stop-motion work is outstanding, as are the delightful hand-crafted plastic figurines that are used for the leading players. (With his elaborate headdress and “I mean you no harm” salute, the Indian is my favorite, beating out the sexy horse, who is also a music teacher by a nose.) The work immediately calls to mind Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, but the attention to detail and overall vision of A Town Called Panic is far more rich and expansive.

The nice trove of supplements on the DVD include a handful of making-of featurettes and the winning animated short from a contest that was judged by the filmmakers.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.