A Town Called Panic | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A Town Called Panic

Plastic toys have crazy adventures in this quirky animated comedy

Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar's feature is a herky-jerky stop-motion animation starring little plastic toys, the cheap molded sort that might come from a gumball machine. Horse, Cowboy and Indian share a home in a small farming community. Horse is working on getting to know a lady horse (who teaches music to barnyard animals), but much of this tiny world is upended (literally) by Cowboy and Indian's blunder. (They mistakenly order 50,000,000 bricks.) This mishap puts the trio on a bizarre journey -- falling to the core of the Earth, being kidnapped by a mechanical penguin and winding up at the bottom of the sea.

This slightly surreal story is played for laughs with characters using bizarre squeaky voices and plenty of visual gags. And the old-school animation is charming, from the papier-mâché homes to the shredded plastic "water." At 75 minutes, the film is likely a little too long: It has a relentless frantic nature, and some comedic bits test a viewer's patience, such as the neighboring farmer who only BELLOWS LIKE THIS. Adventurous kids raised on similarly goofy SpongeBob who don't mind subtitles (though much of story is self-explanatory) might get a kick out of this Belgian import. In French, with subtitles. Starts Fri., April 9. Harris

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