20 February 2010

Panique au village (A Town Called Panic) *

What a manic film! Despite being nonstop fast-paced (like, short-attention-span paced) action, both Megan and I were kind of antsy through parts of it, waiting for something to happen. The reason is, there's no throughline or main plot tying together all the wacky adventures. Well, sort of there is, but it's so late in the game that the many competing subplots in the first two-thirds feel overwhelming, bordering on white noise.

Still, Panic is inventive and very funny at parts, and it smartly plays to the strengths of its limitations rather than letting them hold it back. The tiny plastic figures and their erratic stop-motion movement are consistently surprising and the storytelling is witty, if slapdash. It makes sense that this was a series of five-minute episodes first. I was going to add that the story style and the humor (though not the animation technique or look of it) remind me of Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit) stuff, and then I see that Aardman Animations distributed the original series. So there you go.

And boy, those Belgians love their waffles... apparently.

Seen at the Broadway Multiplex as part of the Portland International Film Festival.

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