mintyalice

McDull, Prince de la Bun (2004)

In Animation on February 24, 2005 at 7:03 pm

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I love the first McDull movie My Life as McDull (2001). The new McDull movie McDull, Prince de la Bun is just as good and could be watched as a stand-alone. McDull (麥兜) is this long running cartoon piglet character created by Hong Kong illustrator Alice Mak and writer Brian Tse, a spin-off from their more children oriented McMug series. When I was little I had the wrong impression that they’re from France because of the faux Le Petit Prince water color drawings. I always prefer the McDull (over McMug) because they’re bittersweet stories for grown ups. The stories usually center around the silly, sad but dull “reality bites” life of this ordinary, not-so-bright young boy pig and his single-parent mother. Like any typical Hong Kong mother, Mrs. Mak has unrealistic extraordinary expectation from her painfully ordinary son who’s always bound to fail. Despite the silly, cute and quirky characters, the animated films are quite poetic and melancholy.

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Unlike the first film, which is a combination of stories from the early publised storybooks, Story of Prince de la Bun is original: Planning for a secure future, McDull’s mother enrolled McDull in all kinds of useless classes, bought insurance, gold, US dollars, toilet paper and a graveyard space. She also told him a story she claimed to have written herself (inspired by J.K. Rowling) called “Pineapple Bun Prince.” The story goes: once upon a time there’s a little prince called ‘Pineapple Bun Prince”, one day he grew up and became a geezer, THE END. ^^;; McDull was dissatisfied with the lacking in length and drama, so McDull’s mother filled in more. Then after a rather bizzare transition (see below), we learn that Pineapple Bun Prince is actually a fabricated story about McDull”s father ‘McBing’ and why he abandoned his family. McBing is a very ordinary, dull man who had wasted all his life without any accomplishment, McBing became lost to reality and abandoned all interest in what lies ahead. He became obessed with delusions of being the ‘Pineapple Bun Prince’, eventually he disappeared and left McDull and his mother forever.

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The animation has a nice mixture of 3D + 2D. There was a nice sequence showing the transition from reality to McDull’s mother story, the poor city they lived in got transformed into a fantasy fairtale-land: skyscrappers turn into castles, giant construction crane brings in rainbows, mountains..etc.

There’s a rather bizzare sequence showing McBing as Le Petit Prince (top pic), he was rendered in highly glossy ceramic-like texture. The narrative structure in of the film is fragmented and non sequencial, going back and forth from reality to story, past to present. There are some creative use of symbolisms, parallelization and foreshadowing. The film can get a little bit confusing at time, but you’ll figure out what’s going later on. (Of course repeat watching helps too, I watched twice).

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I love this whole flashback part of the nostalgic Hong Kong. We get a glimpse of the relationship between McDull’s mom and dad when they were young. The dull and pathetic life of McBing is both sad and funny, young McDull’s mother is bossily cute.

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In one of the most heartbreaking scenes, McBing got duped by a street fortune teller into paying lots of $ to use the “time machine” to go back in time. Of course it didn’t works. I love how the story explores the “past, present and future” attitudes toward life. McBing obsessed with the past (identity, ideals and fantasy). McDull’s mother obsessed with future (being practical and secure with materialistic things, i.e. forcing her son to adopt skills and study hard, buying graves and insurance), McDull is content with his present ordinary self (dancing Cha cha is the key?).

The useless classes McDull took are some of the most bizarre but hilarious scenes. The classes assumed the kids a blue-collar and food service job future.

Also worth mentioning, the film has a nice retro loungey soundtrack too. There’re different covers of the classic latin song “Historia De Un Amor”, including one with funny crass lyrics about peeing. The voice actors were filled with big name HK actors and actresses (Andy Lau, Anthony Wong).

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