Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009 by Hunter Stephenson
A Town Called Panic was one of the more well-received films at Fantastic Fest last month, where it also picked an Audience Award. The unorthodox, stop-motion style of this Belgian animated film needs to be seen to be fully understood, as it taps a mesmerizing, madcap absurdity from the disposability of cheap, plastic toys (think a bag of multi-colored waxy dinosaurs). A limited release is now set in the U.S. for late this year and early next, which is rad given that countless glowing reviews accentuate the theatrical experience.
Per their introduction in the not-so-humble trailer above, Panic’s three main stars are a horse (Horse), a cowboy (Cowboy), and an Indian (Indian), all of whom are making their feature debut. The film is based on a series of five-minute animated shorts that originally aired in Belgium, were distributed by Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit), and later found their way Stateside via Nicktoons. In the film, the trio’s adventures begin with a belated birthday gift for horse that involves an accidental delivery of 50 million bricks and play out across grandiose lands (and oceans) of imagination. For instance, the trio encounter a giant snowball-launching penguin, apparently an experiment of sorts supervised by scientists.
The fine peeps at Twitch are big fans and have announced that Zeitgeist Films will release the film in New York on December 16, Los Angeles on January 29th, and in unnamed cities after that. Twitch adds that a Canadian roll-out is also planned. Keep a lookout on the film’s official website for North America. If Wes Anderson’s stop-motion entry, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, hadn’t experienced an upswing in buzz of late, one might be inclined to say that Panic is currently taking some wind out of its nostalgic, eccentric sails. What do you think? At first, it’s easy to be taken off guard by the non-emotive, blank faces of the characters herein—the much needed antithesis of DreamWorks?—but an oft-cited dreamy, innocent charm quickly settles in. Its subtitle hurdle aside, I could see the movie crossing-over beyond viewers hoping for Roald Dahl by way of Michel Gondry and on to hip families; the visuals seem to express fun far more than “anal perfectionist.”
Here are a few more videos from the Panic animated series…
(…nice drinking of milkshake Indian)