A Town Called Panic

  • Review Date: May 30, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 75 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Stop-motion comedy adventure with subtitles, a few curses.
  • Review Date: May 30, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 75 minutes

Age

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8
9
10
11
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13
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15
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

No messages as such, but the film is a wonderful example of the pure joy associated with creativity and letting one's imagination take flight.

Positive role models

Despite their giant mistakes in judgment, the characters are loyal friends who will go to great lengths to help one another. They take everything, even the most outrageous catastrophes, in stride. Animals and humans interact as equals.

Violence

Lots of cartoon action that is meant to be inventive and funny. No injuries or deaths -- everyone recovers in record time from even massive assaults. Stop-motion animated toys are victims of: tsunami, explosions, a fall to the core of the earth, an avalanche of bricks, evil scientists and their technology, a barracuda attack, a bear, and even a wooly mammoth.

Sex

Two horses fall in love; they dance and flirt.

Language

A few mild profanities (heard in French, seen in English subtitles): "damn," "hell," "bastards," "smart-ass," "dumb-ass," "Sweet Jesus."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Beer and kir are served at an all-night birthday party; several characters drink too much.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Town Called Panic is a funny, unconventional animated (and subtitled) film that will appeal to a wide age range. The simplicity of the subtitles make it an ideal first foreign language film for young readers; even little kids who can't yet read will enjoy the physical comedy and the very funny sounds of the French dialogue as it is heard here. Still, it's not for everyone: It's high-speed, frenetic, with lots of cartoon action -- catastrophes of the highest order (falls, raging waters, some sharp-toothed creature attacks, burial by giant snowball, and more). There is a sprinkling of profanity -- spoken in French, translated into subtitles ("bastard," "ass," "damn," "hell"). One all-night party finds the multi-specied characters (animals and humans are interrelated in this film) drinking beer and kir, some to excess.

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
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What's the story?

Three best friends -- Cowboy, Indian, and Horse -- share a home in an idyllic country village. On Horse's birthday, Cowboy and Indian want to surprise him with a barbeque, but their online order for bricks goes awry -- 50 million are delivered instead of 50. The bricks cause havoc and mayhem, and propel the three friends into a series of unconventional adventures filled with romance, danger, and some of the funniest creatures ever invented. They visit the core of the earth, the bottom of the ocean, and all points in between. A TOWN CALLED PANIC is a Belgian production based on a TV series, in French, with easy-to-read English subtitles.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Quirky, creative, and very funny, this movie can be appreciated on multiple levels. Kids will laugh at the predicaments, the relationships, and the eccentrically original characters. For those who can read, it's a great introduction to subtitled movies. For adults it's a hilarious version of French language films that is both respectful and finds joy in self-parody (the spot-on rhythms of the characters' speech is priceless).

Some may find it absurd and shake their heads in disbelief, but given the onslaught of sophisticated 3-D, motion-capture, and computer-animated films in the marketplace, this film's dependence upon imagination, simplicity, and low-tech animation is a treat. A Town Called Panic is a little too long -- the pace is occasionally wearying and there may actually be too many adventures -- but the story is episodic so it could be viewed in parts.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the experience of watching this movie with subtitles. Did reading them make it harder for you to enjoy the movie? Did you get used to the process?

  • Seeing this movie makes us realize that the same things make us laugh, no matter what country we live in. What conclusions can you draw from this simple story about how Americans and people from other cultures are the same or different? 

  • Part of the movie's humor comes from combining realistic elements with fantastical elements. What seemed "real" and what was "fantasy"?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 17, 2009
DVD release date:July 20, 2010
Cast:Bruce Ellison, Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Directors:Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Studio:La Parti Productions
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Horses and farm animals
Run time:75 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of A Town Called Panic was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 10 year old Written bybflood October 7, 2012
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Funny, a bit scary, worth it....

We loved this movie but there are some inappropriate things such as drinking, language, and cartoon-y violence. Some scenes may be scary to younger viewers (barracuda attacks and a surprising, growling bear). Definitely worth watching even though a bit long. Enjoy!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written bystarsinmyeyes June 23, 2013
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

A great family night pick!

Overall, this was a funny and unusual film. It was a great first subtitled film for my kids who are 7 and 9. There are a few scenes worth mentioning - Cowboy panics and starts shooting his rifle wildly into the night (but it's funny and no one gets hurt), at a party lots of beer is served and one of the characters gets drunk and a bit belligerent (but he's a rowdy character anyway, so it fits his part) and finally, in one scene where the main characters get tricked, the tricksters laugh at them out the window and call them "dumb asses". There are other minor swear words: b*st*rds, d*mn, and h*ll. (CSM won't allow the whole word.) Still, if the younger audience is watching with adults, there isn't anything that can't be managed with a little bit of the old PG. A great family night pick!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 10 year old Written byBrentB June 8, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Comedic anarchy

This movie is hilarious and inspirational - the animation is just crude enough to get a kid's mind going and really think about what they could accomplish with a camera, some toys, and a little bit of mad creativity. My daughter and I have watched it over and over and never get tired of it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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