McDull, Prince de la Bun
Director: Toe Yuen
Cast: Voice - Andy Lau, Sandra Ng, Anthony Wong, Jan Lam, At 17
McDull, Prince de la Bun is a miserable tale about a piggie's family. Same as its prequel My Life as McDull, it is not an animation intended for kids only. The ambition of the filmmakers was far higher than that.
When My Life as McDull was released in 2001, many critics had already pointed out that the filmmakers did not limit their perspectives on kid's animation, they were actually trying to go beyond that and offer a mature and sometimes cold glimpse of our society, that is, Hong Kong. Although there are laughable and funny moments in the movie, the overall tone is rather dark and desperate. Again, this same theme is repeated in McDull, Prince de la Bun, and this time it is pushed even further.
McDull and Prince de la Bun are two characters. Prince de la Bun is not a nick of McDull but his father McBing, who is very important in this movie, and in fact, the pivotal character. While we still see McDull hovering here and there, a large portion of the movie is actually attributed to McBing. McBing comes from a royal family. Because of various reasons, he lost his heir title and was actually forsaken at a very young age. Without knowing how he could regain his title, he chose to face the reality and lived an ordinary life. However, after he has grown up, he realizes that he cannot end his life like a nobody, and so he decides to fight back for his title even though he does not know what kind of danger he will be facing...
A tramautic atmosphere is present throughout the movie. There seems to be no hope for everyone. McDull's mother doesn't really have any dream, she only wants McDull to be fully trained in order to find a stable job in the future; McDull is also pessimistic. He is less ambitious than ever before, all he wants is to find an ordinary job and make a living; The principal and teachers of the kindergarten are also hopeless. They can only face the removal of their campus building and utter miserable words like "let it be, even though we don't want to let it be, we have to..."; McBing is even a primary example of despair. There is nothing except tears on his wooden face, it just seems that he is numbed with grief.
Same as its predecessor, the narrative structure of McDull, Prince de la Bun is quite loose. The story is presented in an episodic manner, revolving from McDull to McBing, and suddenly back to McDull... Positively speaking, this approach allows more creative input from the filmmakers, and as a matter of fact, most of the scene transitions are quite unexpected yet beautiful. But on the other hand, the entire movie is more likely to become a mess if the director's storytelling technique is weak, especially when the story contains very heavy and complicated message. In this regard, although I wouldn't say director Toe Yuen and scriptwriter Brian Tse's approach is a failure, it is nevertheless obvious that the metaphorical messages behind the story are heavier than what they can handle. Perhaps the story background is too light and whimsical, or that the running time of the movie is too short, throughout the movie, it is never easy for the audience to digest everything and grasp the meanings easily in the first viewing (yes, if you want to enjoy every bit of the movie, repeated viewing is recommended). It seems that the filmmakers had just poured in too many ingredients in a duration of mere 75 minutes.
In terms of the aesthetic, fans of My Life as McDull should not be disappointed, as everything that makes the first movie lovable and enjoyable remains in the second one, the only difference is that the quality of the animation just gets better. With the box office success of My Life as McDull, Yuen and his crew did manage to get more money and perhaps a larger production team, and the result is a more sophisticated computer-animated city of Hong Kong and more delicately crafted McDull and his friends. Dubbing wise, one little surprise is that in addition to the usual dubbing team of the highly vigorous Anthony Wong and Sandra Ng, Andy Lau also joins the crew and plays the voice of McBing.
From what I heard, the McDull animation is going to be a trilogy. Following My Life as McDull and McDull, Princde de la Bun, the third installment will talk about McDull being sent to Wudan for martial art training, and the tentative title is McDull, Wudan (translated from Chinese, literally). Let's hope this will bring a pleasant finale to the trilogy.
Reviewed by: Kantorates