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Panique au Village: A Town Called Panic
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Panique au Village: A Town Called Panic – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

In a world where everyone and everything is the kind of child’s toy that are supported by little plastic base plates, Cheval – who anyone who can recall their schoolboy French will work out is a horse – shares his house with the good-meaning trouble-makers Cowboy and Indian – as their names suggest, a cowboy and a native American.
When a birthday card arrives for Cheval, Cowboy and Indian feel terrible about forgetting, so they decide to build Cheval a barbecue for as a present.
Internet troubles mean that instead of ordering 50 bricks, they end up with some way over 50 million. With no room to store them all, they pile them on a platform above the house, which ends up collapsing under their weight.
When they try to rebuild the house, a bunch of strange finned creatures keep stealing the walls overnight and taking them to their underwater world, reached through the pond on neighbour Steven’s farm.
And just in case it’s not sounding surreal enough, when Cheval agrees to give Steven’s farm animals a lift to their piano lesson, he ends up falling in love with their purple-maned mare of a teacher.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is without question the most surreal piece of film-making I have seen in my entire life.
But it’s bristling with the kind of innocent, warm-hearted good-natured humour that would normally be expected to reside in the mind of primary school children, rather than adults, and as such, watching the film feels somewhat like watching a six year old playing with toys in their bedroom when they don’t know anyone is watching.
Whether it’s watching Indian blow-drying his feathered head-dress after a fully-clothed shower, seeing Cheval sleeping standing up or having your mind boggled by the giant mechanical penguins that fling snow-balls at deer, thousands of miles away, this is an experience that cannot be described but should not be missed.
You don’t have to understand the original French dialogue to get a sense the peculiarity of the comedy voices being used.
It’s brash, shameless fun that moves at such a brisk pace that you won’t be able to gather your breath until its 77 minutes are over, at which point you’ll feel like you’ve had a custard pie thrown in your face, washed away with a slap in the face from a wet flannel.
It’s an unexpected breath of fresh air, but perhaps something worth waiting for on DVD rather than seeing on the big screen, as it’s more of a curiosity than a true piece of cinematic art and you’ll almost certainly want to wind bits back and see them again anyway.

Opens nationwide 8th October 2010

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