I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? A Town Called Panic (2009)
What’s it rated? Unrated for absurdity, whimsy and the fleeting feeling of a dream you just woke up from.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. Voiced by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Bruce Ellison.
What’s it like in one sentence? A wonderfully pleasant diversion from your troubles.
Why did you watch it? AMVP and RelaxingDragon had some pretty swell things to say about it and they’re pretty trustworthy guys. Also, I really needed to wash the taste of Human Centipede 2 out of my mouth. That sounded much worse than I meant it to.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Cowboy, Indian and Horse are roommates. It’s Horse’s birthday and Cowboy and Indian decide to build him a barbecue pit. When they accidentally order 5 million bricks instead of 50, they’re drawn into a web of lies, deceit and sexual inappropriateness. Actually, they just go to the center of the Earth, the bottom of the ocean, the Arctic circle and ride a mechanical penguin designed to throw giant snowballs. Like ya do.
Play or remove from my queue? Play it most definitely. It’s light and fun enough to feel like you’re watching a kid’s movie, but it’s also weird enough to seem like it’s for grown-ups, as well. The story is so simple and propulsive that you really never have time to stop and question anything. As soon as you start tiring of a certain setting or scenario, they move onto the next phase of their epic journey and you forget about whatever you might not have been digging. In a way, the film made me feel like a goldfish: always smiling at what I was looking at, but not really having any idea how I got there. I know this sounds like I’m knocking it, but it’s refreshing to just shut the brain off every once and a while and marvel at some neat visuals and sweet reflections on friendship and love.
The love story between Horse and his special horse lady-friend was really refreshing and lovely (just as Chewer RelaxingDragon told me it would be). I can’t say it’s subtle, but it’s simple and direct without massive declarations of life long love or sappy, sentimental drudgery. It somehow manages to feel original and timeless simultaneously and makes for an interesting contrast to how other animated films deal with relationships. I wanted the horsies to find love with each other, but I never felt manipulated into feeling that way.
One of the greatest strengths of A Town Called Panic is the sheer joy it takes in the stop-motion animation process and the seemingly effortless way it goes about telling a very specific story in the exact way that it wants to. I know that Panic is based off of a TV series of the same name in Belgium and I can’t wait to track it down. The episodic nature of the film seems like it would work really comfortably in a shorter format and might even tighten up the things I took issue with. Because of how breezy and light the film is, I’m having trouble remembering too many specifics about the film just a few days after seeing it. Maybe a shorter running time it would allow for more memorable stories to tell? I don’t know. All I know is I was looking for a palate cleanser after two weeks inside Tom Six’s disturbed imagination and A Town Called Panic not only served (perfectly) as that, but it also reset me completely, leaving me very excited to see what we all decide to look at next.
Do you have a favorite line? When Cowboy, Indian and Horse’s neighbor Steven wakes up in the morning, his wife has a 7 foot tall cup of coffee waiting for him, which he smashes through, coming out the other side saying “Excellent coffee”. It’s not that funny describing it, but brilliant upon viewing.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? 1500 plastic toys were used in the making of the film. I wonder how many the folks at Robot Chicken use on a weekly basis.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Frogs and Toads (I like frogs and toads), The Red Balloon (Been meaning to watch this for ten years), Wallace and Gromit : Loaf and Death (My least favorite W&G, but still pretty great), The Butterfly (I like Butterflies) and The Secret of Kells (I’m gonna watch this soon).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Pretty much anything from Aardman Animations and as much Robot Chicken as you can stomach. Also, Tati.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 4.o
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 4.o
Can you link to the movie? Sure!
Any last thoughts? I failed to mention how funny the film is. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times at things so bizarre and random (without ever becoming twee) that it’s hard to imagine this film ever getting made. I’m also really interested to find out how the film plays to kids and whether they get down with the lo-fi animation style.
Did you watch anything else this week? Got caught up on Season 2 of Game of Thrones (so far, so flawless) and I rented disc 1 of Season 1 of G.I. Joe, which is still pretty awesome.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence? I was just wondering what you guys thought of the end. Was everything in his head or (based on the sound of the crying infant) had he only just completed part of his centipede?
Next Week? Sleeping Beauty (the one with the chick from Sucker Punch), A Somewhat Gentle Man, Saint Nick, Into the Abyss, Everything Must Go, One, Two, Three or Ink? Also taking suggestions. Love you guys.