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Review: A Town Called Panic

Bilge from Belgium
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  January 20, 2010
2.0 2.0 Stars

This stop-motion comedy from Belgian filmmakers Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar is the anti–Fantastic Mr. Fox — its lack of visual and psychological nuance is, merci, quite deliberate. Toy-like characters, filmed from a distance that thwarts intimacy, bop around in crude dioramas.

The action kicks off as bumbling Cowboy and Indian plan to build their pal Horse a barbecue for his birthday; they mean to order 50 bricks on the Internet and wind up instead with 50 million. Absurdity is supposed to carry the day in this fantastical satire of rural life, but the film's material is too mild and its bag of tricks (flurries of motion and noise followed by pauses of stillness and silence) too repetitive.

The French dialogue does add a goofy edge, but the disjointed story would work best as 15-minute episodes on Adult Swim. Aimed at adults, ATown Called Panic is also suitable for kids, though they might rebel at the low-tech approach.

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