Review: My Life as McDull (2001)

Directed by:
Cast: , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

Damn if this film didn’t make the whole audience roar with laughter!

My Life as McDull is an incredibly cute and bittersweet animated feature from director Toe Yuen and the brainchild of producer Brian Tse. Spinning off from a successful TV series in HK, it’s a series of vignettes about piglet, McDull and his childhood in HK. A combination of mixed media – 2D, 3D, live action etc.., McDull is visually gorgeous, with nods to Takahata’s My Neighbour the Yamadas and Raymond Briggs [he was the inspiration behind McDull].

When people reminisce and hark back to their childhood, it’s often filled with nostalgia, carefree, innocent times devoid of hardships. Well, McDull is here to remind us that it is bullshit -being a kid was often pretty damn hard least of all as a piglet growing up in the slums of Shamshuipo against the backdrop the economic Asian recession.

Narrated as a series of humorous vignettes by the multitalented Jan Lamb [HK DJ, singer/designer among some of his professions] they are concurrently hilarious and bittersweet. The relationship between McDull and his mama [voiced by comedienne, Sandra Ng] is the crux of the film, providing many delightful moments of pathos.

Despite not being blessed with looks, brains or luck, McDull is a tough little piglet who realises early on he can only succeed on his own four trotters. Eternally optimistic and diligent, he has a plucky, never give up spirit- the closing scene echoes what he knows all along – life is but a vicious cycle alternating between hope and disappointment.

Now that doesn’t extremely cheery but I assure you your throat will get many a tickle, and maybe even get a stitch in the stomach like me – the first half nearly goddamn killed me! Now you’re thinking that’s because I’m well versed in the Canto-HK culture and language. Yes, the film is filled with local references but that didn’t stop the largely non-Canto audience from laughing along too. Like all great films, the themes are universal and hit all the right spots -we all oink-ed and snorted at all the right moments.

Some vignettes were a little uneven, especially towards the second half but that is a small gripe. My big gripe is that they should have translated the opening song and the closing gag too because they were very funny.

I leave you with a bit Mama McDull’s wisdom:
Recipe for roast chicken:
Get a chicken and roast it!

8.5 "dai pao" [big buns] out of 10.
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