Cowboy and Indian's plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they accidentally destroy his house. To their dismay, no sooner have they built a new home when it is stolen from beneath their noses by a stealthy and cunning midnight assailant. Strange adventures ensue as the trio travel to the centre of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy headed (and dishonest!) creatures live. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier mache world, will Horse and his girlfriend ever be alone?
- A Town Called Panic review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 4
This is recommended as a film for all the family, but I suspect most children, especially very young ones, would be utterly baffled by it, and probably disdainful of the minimalist style of animation, which makes Wallace and Gromit look like "Avatar". The two Belgians responsible for the movie explain in the (very short) interview included as a DVD extra that they were inspired by the chaotic anything-goes collage cartoons of Python-era Terry Gilliam, but I think most people would be able to guess that anyway.
The "plot" is that Horse (who is an actual horse) is surprised on his birthday with a barbecue built by his wildly irresponsible housemates Cowboy and Indian because this was the first gift they randomly thought of. Unfortunately they accidentally ordered 50 million bricks, resulting in a chain of events which includes the destruction of their house, a bizarrely pointless mystery crime-wave, an epic and completely accidental journey taking in the centre of the Earth, the North Pole, and an underwater department store run by a pointy-headed merman, mammoths fighting giant robot penguins, and a no-holds-barred final showdown in which fish and farm animals are used as weapons. And all Horse ever wanted was to arrive on time for his music lessons because the teacher is a beautiful lady horse, therefore he feels strangely compelled to attempt to learn to play the piano.
If you can handle just over an hour (plus some ridiculously long credits to pad it out to feature length) of this kind of sometimes frantic nonsense - the town isn't called Panic for nothing! (in fact, it isn't called Panic at all, that's just the English title, but never mind) - involving animation so rudimentary that the plastic toys playing the characters often aren't even removed from their bases, this is a tremendous blast of cheap and cheerful silliness that has no profound morals or deeper meanings whatsoever, except maybe that horses will always be lousy pianists, no matter how many lessons they take. And if you think Terry Gilliam was a lot more fun in the seventies when he was just trying to raise a Surreal laugh or two, before people told him he was a genius and he believed them, you may very well love this. Just remember: "The Lego Movie" it ain't!