Tag Team Review – A Town Called Panic

October 26, 2010

As always with the Tag Team Reviews, Chris M is in blue and Chris W is in green.

A Town Called Panic is easily one of the most fun things I have seen either in or out of the cinema all year. It’s a Belgian movie that tells the story of a Horse (Cheval), a Cowboy (Cowboy) and an Indian (Indien) who all live together in a house. Some stuff happens. Some really weird stuff. And it’s brilliant. If I was to tell you it was directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, you might not know who I was talking about, but if I were to tell you it’s from the guys who made the Cravendale Adverts, you’d be much better prepared for what you’re getting yourself into in seeing this movie.

This film very much feels to me like what would happen if you gave a small child a bunch of toys and just said “right go on then, play with them” and then recorded it. It’s the kind of creativity and humour that seems to eke out of us as we progress through life until we eventually lose it and end up just thinking fart jokes are funny (which they are).

The thing is, the comedy on offer here really wouldn’t work in any other format, whether that be animated or live action and for me it really really benefitted from being seen in its own language. I watched a couple of the shorts on youtube dubbed in English and… they’re just nowehere near as good.

It’s probably come and gone by now but when this comes out on DVD I implore you to get a bunch of people together to watch it, I guarantee you won’t have a clue what’s going on, but you’ll probably be laughing too much to care.

I can see how this might not be to everyone’s tastes so for those of you feeling less than inquisitive and not prepared to go into this with no idea what to expect, you can see one of the shorts here, it benefits if you have a little knowledge of French, but you should be able to follow it quite easily anyway.

For me though watching this movie filled me with joy. Pure unadulterated joy. And it’s a long time since a movie has done that.

Captain Madden singing the praises there, and rightly so, A Town Called Panic is certainly an enjoyable picture and rewards those who will search it out (I waited a month to get the chance to see it) with a fantastically paced yarn that doesn’t waste time with character development or plot consistency and instead focuses on a laughs-per-minute ratio higher than any other comedy you are likely to see this year.

CM’s synopsis is wonderfully apt too- there is no point in either of us trying to surmise the goings on in the 75 minute running time (finally, a SHORT FILM!!!!) because to do so would ruin the surprise for any future viewers and also perhaps put some people off due to its sheer randomness. Random is an oft used word by town-centre-stalking teenagers these days but even they wouldn’t be able to act in on the joke that is A Town Called Panic- it is a magically leftfield offering that will have even the most jaded of cynics cracking a smile and harking back to their own childhood playtimes.

I would like to offer a thought on audiences though if I may. Whilst discussing …Panic over dinner with a friend afterwards the word ‘niche’ was used to describe its appeal. Whilst I think that the film is perfectly accessible for all and could be enjoyed by any type of cinema goer I fear my friend may have had a point in terms of the types of people who may be considering watching the film in the first place.

I saw …Panic at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon and was impressed to see a few younger children in the theatre with their parents. Whilst there are two mentions of the S-Bomb in the film it is admirable to see children finding pleasure from a picture that audibly at least will mean nothing to them- the visuals alone kept them laughing throughout.

However their presence got me wondering whether for many this film has been avoided simply because, from the poster at least, it looks like a kids film. No problem with that of course seeing as kids seem to love it, but for a film that is brimming with so many adult references and is such an overt homage to a myriad of different genres (with an absolutely fantastic parody of Singing in the Rain thrown in) it seems a shame that perhaps hosts of men and women might miss out on this film for no other reason than they have no sprogs of their own to take with them.

So fear not childless reader! A Town Called Panic IS for you and you should snatch any opportunity you get to go and see it.

Speak to you soon!