McDull: The Pork of Music
PRODS Yu Jie, Samuel Choy, He Zhikai
SCR Brian Tse, Alice Mak
PROD DES Alice Mak, Yeung Hok-tak
MUS Ng Cheuk-yin
PROD CO Toonmax Media / Well Talent / Sunwah Media
McDull is an animated piglet, cute and very dense. He’s had a long career in Hong Kong, incarnating and gently mocking the hopes and dreams of Hong Kongers. As a cultural icon, he and his animal classmates are wildly popular HK commodities. But in his cinema role, McDull is a woefully underachieving kindergarten piglet, a spectacular though lovable failure, a constant disappointment to his mother (voiced by actress Sandra Ng). Nevertheless, Springfield Kindergarten’s principal (the superb Hong Kong character actor Anthony Wong) frequently takes McDull under his wing to realize their grandiose aspirations. HKers are practical dreamers, after all.
McDull: The Pork of Music is virtually a musical, describing how the kindergarten, now destitute in HK’s depressed economy, forms a student chorus to raise operating funds. The choir, of course, becomes wildly famous, and, guided by shady manager Big M (Ronald Cheng), reaches the apotheosis of HK culture: on stage with superstar Andy Lau.
The film’s animation styles vary from simple line drawings to richly pastel-coloured 3D-style wonder. Most important are the songs: each of the McDull series (we’ve shown several at VIFF) has delightfully orchestrated and re-written music, based on Western classical favourites (McDull loves Schumann) but parodied with wit and an astonishing sense of cross-cultural pastiche.
Part of the charm of the McDull features is their utterly local sense of vernacular humanity, their scatalogically eloquent word play, and their ability to embody, in a seemingly cute and homespun animated universe, the depressions and elations of being a HKer today. McDull shows us how the deepest ideas and most emotionally moving stories can come packaged in the most unprepossessingly delightful pop guises.
— Shelly Kraicer