I don't think insanity even begins to describe what this movie is, or the spirit with which it was made.
This Belgium film is done using stop-motion animation. It comes on the heels of recent, Oscar-nominated, American films, released the same year: A Matter of Loaf and Death, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Coraline.
If you measure stop-motion animation by how fluidly the characters, be they dolls or stick figures, if you measure how fluidly they move on screen, then Coraline is probably the best of them all. A Town Called Panic is no Coraline. The characters' movements aren't fluid. They're choppy with animation quality no more advanced than in Gumby.
The story focuses on three individuals: Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. All three are literally what they're called, a cowboy, an Indian, and a horse. All three live together. The insanity starts when Cowboy and Indian forget that it's Horse's birthday. Cowboy and Indian scramble to get Horse a present, but their panic results in Horse's house getting ruined and then literally getting robbed. The adventure follows the three trying to get back what was taken.
In terms of adventure, it becomes the craziest journey that has ever been depicted in an animated or live action film that I've seen. From the Earth's molten core, the frozen Antarctic, to the bottom of the ocean, the three see every extreme in land and water.
It's not just the places, but the ways the characters find themselves in those places are so inventive. Some might call it ridiculous, and they would be right, but that's part of the supreme fun of this movie.
It's the same with the animation. Yes, it's choppy and not advanced but that doesn't matter. Actually, it does because it's clear that the filmmakers, Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, intentionally wanted it to look choppy. It seemed that those movements were made even more rapid and odd on purpose. It added to the hilarity.
Most animated films push the boundaries of hilarity. Yet, most of those films have their limits, their rules. This one doesn't. It doesn't just push boundaries. It goes so far beyond them that it's light-years away. It revels in its hallucinogenic nature. It's like you're watching something that is not even in the same universe.
You have a horse that takes showers in a tub, drives a car, and plays the piano. You have a waffle vending machine. You have swordfish used as weapons.
Sometimes it's simple tomfoolery and slapstick humor, involving toy figurines of a cowboy and Indian who cause trouble and a horse who saves them. Other times, a town called panic is a town called manic.
Five Stars out of Five
Not nated but recommended for general audiences
Running Time: 1 hr. and 15 mins.