Fri, Jul 25, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Pigs might fly, but usually don't

McDull is a piglet living in Hong Kong who tries to be special but learns that not everyone can be

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

A still from the movie and its realistic Hong Kong background.


McDull is a piglet who lives with his mother in Hong Kong. He is not the brightest kid in his elementary school, his classmates are ducks, turtles and other pigs. His mom, coping on her own, is not the best mom in the world, but tries hard to give McDull a happy childhood. And McDull too tries his best to make her proud, although he constantly fails.

My life as McDull is arguably the best animation feature from Hong Kong in the past five years. Brain Tse (謝立文) and Alice Mak (麥加碧) adapted their own best-selling comic book The Story of McMug (麥嘜故事) -- also a pig character -- and created a different pig for the movie.

Though just 12 people made the film (none of whom are veteran animators), it took the Grand Prix prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France for Best Animated Feature Film.

It was also the winner of best animation feature film at last year's Golden Horse Awards.

On the whole, the story of Mcdull is a jolly childhood adventure with cute, sometimes bizarre music and songs. The characters (McDull, Mrs. McDull and the classmates) are imaginary animals but the environment is a realistic Hong Kong. The traditional watercolor tones of comics are nicely interwoven with 3D computer graphic animation and sometimes paper cutouts, making the pictures richer than the original comic book.

But the best part of the film is its whimsical style of narration and the imaginative plot that takes you on the different journeys of McDull. Unable to afford a trip to the Maldives, McDull's dream, his mom ends up taking him on a tram trip to Victoria peak. The tram has a sign "Go to the Maldives."

Later, McDull wants to become an Olympic champion and sets his heart on being like female windsurfer Lee Lik-san (李麗珊), Hong Kong's only Olympic medalist, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games (before the 1997 handover). So he goes all the way to Lamma Island looking for Logan, Lee's coach, a bun-loving old man with a pair of thick and strong legs resembling two giant squashes. Somehow McDull gets to learn Logan's skill of bun snatching, a traditional Hong Kong temple fair activity in which one needs to climb up a mountain stacked with buns. McDull climbs well, utilizing his kung fu skills.

Film Notes

My Life as McDull (麥兜故事)

Directed by: Toe Yuen

Starring: Jan Lamb (McDull's voice), Sandra Ng Kwan Yue (Mrs. McDull), Anthony Wong Chau Sang (School principal's and Logan's voice)

Running time: 75 minutes

Language: Cantonese, with both Chinese and English subtitles

Taiwan Release: Today

Mrs. McDull (excellent voice by comedy actress Sandra Ng) loves her son so much that she writes a letter to the Olympic committee chairman, hoping to list bun-snatching as an official Olympic competition. This starts up a series of campaigns to include other traditional activities in the Olympics, including tart-tossing. (Clerks in Hong Kong's tea restaurants are famous for their rude service and appear to throw tarts at their customers.)

These cute adventures represent not only the process of growing up, but also, they bring out a local flavor particular to Hong Kong, particularly to that part of the culture that is vanishing.

Looking at McDull growing up makes one think, maybe, there is a bit of McDull in every childhood. We grow with hope and then see failure and realize that not everyone can become a special pig. For this reason, My Life as McDull is an animation not only recommendable to kids but also adults.

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