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Most of the film is devoted to Horse and his attempts to track down these underwater bandits with Cowboy and Indian. Their mission leads them to depths subterranean ("We're nearing the Earth's core!"), Arctic (where a giant robot penguin housing a laboratory devoted to harmless pranks, perhaps a nod to one of Wallace's crafty inventions, is both hilarious and visually striking), and underwater (where the villains terrorizing Horse talk shop over giant waffles obtained from vending machines).

Never mind that A Town Called Panic's guiding tension — "We have to get our walls back," Horse reminds us at one point, though they have millions more bricks to build with — is nonsensical, or that the tantalizingly homoerotic relationship between Cowboy and Indian isn't fully explored, or that some of these animals are just anonymous barnyard animals and some interact freely with other humans and animals. The film, relentlessly quirky but somehow never precious or cloying, is a lovable diversion.

Christopher Gray can be reached

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