Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Monday, September 27, 2004

09:24:49 pm , 461 words, 2440 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Movie

McDull, Prince de la Bun

I enjoyed McDull, Prince de la Bun, but it felt like another serving of the same dish, which is starting to lose its appeal. This time around much of the humor flew over my head. Almost without exception, whenever the Cantonese-speakers in the hall were roaring with laughter, I was sitting there bemused. It's not so much the translation, as just that the film is so damn local. The jokes seems tailored to tickle the funny bone of just this handful of people. Not helping was the fact that the translation was just plain bad. I don't remember actually laughing a single time due to the translation, which never made the slightest attempt to translate the humor of a line, instead always sticking to its bare-bones literal meaning, more often that not in bad English. I could sense the contours of the joke from hearing the intonation of the voice, and from the few kanji that I could read, but frustratingly most of the time the humor remained just beyond my reach. What little I could catch seemed feeble. Most of all I was hoping to be served some scathing political satire, but that side of the film was disappointingly lightweight. Perhaps if I was more informed about local issues I would have gotten more out of it. Otherwise one is left to be satisfied with the story, and I actually found the story rather obscure and unconvincing this time around.

The story is simple enough; it's basically a prequel about McDull's absconded father. And it does have its moments. It's just that the first movie made sense on the first sitting, but the pacing this time was so fast, and full of confusing jumps and characters that didn't mean anything to me, that I really didn't understand what was going on a lot of the time. Even moreso than the first movie, the resemblance to Yamada-kun is striking here, because a lot of the time the film felt like a bunch of one-shot episodes stitched together, masquerading as a narrative. Localness is a good thing, don't get me wrong, and that's one of the big attractors of the movie to me; but another part of me wonders if a film is too local when nobody but the locals get it. I wouldn't have minded as much if the localness hadn't been so self-serving, consisting largely as it does of in-jokes and the same situation gag repeated time and again. I would have liked to have been able to find out more about the everyday life and the political issues affecting the lives of people in Hong Kong. Like an animated political cartoon. That element is there, but it's totally overwhelmed by now-familiar razzle dazzle from the director's bag of tricks.

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