“McDull: The Pork of Music” uses a kindergarten choir’s misadventures to deliver a kooky ode to the soul-stirring (and bowel-moving) power of music. Helmed by Brian Tse, this fifth installment of an animation series based on cartoon characters Tse co-created with wife Alice Mak vocalizes Hong Kong grassroot sentiments with untranslatable local humor. Though piglet protag McDull and his classmates ooze ingenuous charm, the pic’s narrative brain farts, vernacular wisecracks and esoteric worldview make it several bacon strips short of a BLT for non-Cantonese auds. The China release fell far short of the B.O. success of accessible prequel “McDull: Kungfu Kindergarten.”Although the pic’s running joke of how McDull’s singing stimulates the poop-shoot is an abstruse metaphor for music’s rousing nature, its tender portrait of a headmaster (Anthony Wong) devoted to instilling music appreciation in his impressionable pupils is inspirational for all. Yet the experimental integration of Mak’s cute, distinctive pastel illustrations of tyke protags with Yeung Hok-tak’s grotesque rendering of adults and mainland urbanscapes results in a jarring, bipolar aesthetic. Classical masterpieces, particularly Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” are comically skewed when set to Tse’s uproarious yet eloquent Cantonese lyrics.
A Well Talent Hong Kong (in Hong Kong)/Eastern Mordor, Pearl River Film Media (in China) release of a Toonmax Media, Well Talent Hong Kong, Sunwah Media presentation and production. Produced by Qiu Xin, Brian Tse, Jonathan K. Choi, Yu Jie, Samuel Choy, He Zhikai. Executive producers, Li Rong, Brian Tse, Kenny Cheung. Co-executive producers, Yang Wenyan, Samuel Choy, Zhao Jun. Directed, written by Brian Tse, based on the original story by Tse, Alice Mak.
Camera (color, widescreen, HD); editors, Li Chun-man, Wong Wai-lap; music/music supervisor, Ng Cheuk-yin; art directors, Alice Mak, Yeung Hok-tak; sound (Dolby Digital), Wong Hing-seng; supervising sound editor, Yip Chun-ho; re-recording mixers, Wong Hing-seng, Leung Chi-lung; 2D animation directors, Huang Jiangfeng, Chen Liang, Qin Heyang; 3D production, W Production; 2D and 3D animation, Lunchtime Prod.; line producers, Qiang Jiejun, Shi Jun, Karrie Chung, Evan Lu, Caroline Chang, Fan Li. Reviewed at HK Summer Film Festival (Gala Premiere), Aug. 15, 2012. (Also in Vancouver Film Festival.) Running time: 78 MIN.
Anthony Wong, Michael Zhang Zhengzhong, Sandra Ng, the pancakes, Ronald Cheng, Andy Lau. (Cantones, English dialogue)