Quite some years ago now in one of their many hilarious ad-campaigns Cravendale milk once and for all outdid themselves. A TV advert made entirely from animated plastic toys that can’t have lasted for more than 10 seconds blazed its way across our TV screens and then was gone. These were the highlights of many an ad-break. Sadly it was a short lived campaign with only one or two different adverts. Years later when I heard the creators of these adverts had made a feature length film I went out of my way to get hold of a copy.
When “A town called panic” was finally in my DVD player I fell in love. The film, although relatively brief, manages to maintain the same manic pace as the adverts without become dull or flat as I feared would be the case. Its a rip roaring ride that makes very little sense at all but therein lies the joy of the film. The plotting resembles the rambling stories told by a toddler, but with the entire film being animated toys what could be better? The story revolves around 3 friends, Horse, Cowboy and Indian. The three friends end up on an adventure that involves falling down a seemingly bottomless pit and being abducted by a giant robotic penguin that fires snowballs at unsuspecting wildlife. The chaotic plotting could get wearing but the humour of the film buoys it along. The viewer is constantly trying to guess what absurdity we will see next and it never fails to deliver. Although the film is in French that adds to the hilarity, particularly in the case of the neighbouring farmer who shouts all of his lines.
Whilst the use of plastic toys seems like a cop out from more painstaking traditional stop motion animation (like Wallace and Gromit) careful examination shows that the animators had many different plastic models for each character. They had to make these different models themselves, a painstaking process. There is something very pleasing about the titular village, a security and completeness of set design that Aardman seem to have to a tee. The childish nature of the animation and plotting generates a feeling of nostalgia for something never experienced.
Every element of this film that makes it so enjoyable and unique could be a detriment if it was present on its own, but the chaotic plot, childish animation, general absurdity and breakneck pace all combine perfectly to make one of the most unique film experiences you’re likely to find
James prefers Geography to films. In fact he prefers Geography to most things. He’s just my flatmate so I made him write this. He is the third best in the flat at Mario Kart Wii.
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