Panique au Village (Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, 2009)
At one point, while talking to someone I’d promised to do a review for months previous and hadn’t got round to it yet, I made a comment along the lines of “good reviews are harder to write!”. It’s true. I am currently (not counting this review) one hundred twenty-six movie reviews behind (this is the earliest of the “reviews I have let sit forever without writing them” movies in the queue, at least; I watched Panique au Village almost ten months ago as I write this), and just skimming through the titles, I noted at least a dozen that have made it onto my thousand-best list. The reviews where I just stomp in and crush everything in
sight like Mothra are simple. How hard can it be to find seven different ways to say “your movie sucks!” and then list examples? On the other hand, with good-to-great movies, well, it’s Leo Tolstoy turned on its head. Crappy movies are all alike. Every great movie is great in its own way. And thus I have sat on reviews of movies like Vargtimmen and Pit Pony and Little Man and Rango and Panique au Village, because there is so much more to say about these movies, most if not all of it joyous, but you can’t script a review for a movie like this off a template the same way you can a dozen reviews of stupid Hollywood Asian horror movie remakes. Panique au Village, like every other movie on the list I just presented you, is indeed great in its own way.
Plot: Cowboy (voice of co-director Stéphane Aubier) and Indien (voice of Kill Me Please!‘s Bruce Ellison) are planning a surprise birthday party for their pal Cheval (voice of co-director Vincent Patar). But what does one get the horse who has everything? A handmade outdoor barbecue, of course! But something goes horribly wrong when they order the bricks, and the order is multiplied by a billion, setting off the events that power the rest of the movie, leading the three friends on sillier and sillier adventures.
A movie that I’m currently in the middle of watching as I write this review (I had to pause it to go to work… silly work), the ridiculously funny Danish comedy Sound of Noise, is described by the blurb-writers at Netflix as an “absurdist comedy”. That would be a pretty good way of describing this glorious mess of a movie, which is only “animated” in the crudest sense; Cowboy, Indien, Cheval, and their friends are all painted army men (well, they’re not army men, but I always think of those plastic toys that are helped to stand by a piece of plastic between their feet as “army men” for some reason) animated with the crudest stop-motion I’ve seen on film…ever, I think. However, the crudeness of the animation fits the absurdity of the situations, and the whole is a seamless mesh of stupid fun that it’s not impossible to not love (Allan Hunter, writing in the London Daily Express, says of the film’s animation that “a little goes a long way”—a sentiment shared by most of the critics who turned in rotten reviews at rottentomatoes), but it’s pretty durned hard. Excellent café! ****