Spotlight: "A Town Called Panic"

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2010 - 3:04 PM

If a precocious 9-year-old with attention deficit issues made a stop-motion animated movie, he might produce a triumph of supreme silliness like this.

A TOWN CALLED PANIC

If a precocious 9-year-old with attention deficit issues made a stop-motion animated movie, he might produce a triumph of supreme silliness like "A Town Called Panic" (★★★★). This deliciously punch-drunk daydream of a movie stars Cowboy (a cheap, little plastic dime-store toy), his best frenemy Indian (ditto) and their pal Horse (likewise). They live together in a dollhouse near a village populated with dozens of other figurines, each with its own uniquely cracked personality. The trio's herky-jerky daily life is utter havoc. The simple chore of buying a birthday gift launches them on a series of zany disasters. They fall into the center of the Earth, trek across Antarctica and visit Atlantis, which is populated by greedy, dishonest gnomes. Along the way they battle kung-fu scientists and a gigantic penguin tank that throws intercontinental snowballs. There's a daffy logic to it all, except when logic is inconvenient. The visual gags are immaculately staged and timed, and the on-the-cheap animation has a charm all its own. The film is a spinoff from a Belgian cult TV series of the same name, and like "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," either you get it or you don't. But I feel sorry for anyone -- adult or kid -- who can't surrender to this delirious lunacy. It's "Toy Story" on acid. It's Monty Python meets Gumby. It's my favorite alternate universe since "Avatar"! (Lagoon Cinema. Unrated; in French, subtitled.) COLIN COVERT

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