Produced by Liu Jian, Yang Cheng
Written and Directed by Liu Jian
Starring Yang Siming, Cao Kou, Ma Xiaofeng,
Zhu Changlong, Cao Kai, Zheng Yi
There’s always been a conflict with animation between kids shows and more adult fare from people like Ralph Bakshi.
Have a Nice Day is squarely in the adult animation arena with it’s minimalist style and violent story-line.
Writer, director Liu Jian tells the story of Xiao Zhang, a driver for a low-level gangster in an unnamed city in southern China, who steals one million Yuan Renminbi (about $150,000 US Dollars) to help his girlfriend fix a botched plastic surgery operation.
But Xiao Zhang is an inept criminal and through his clumsiness gets involved with a malign inventor, a hit-man butcher, a greedy motorcycle punk and others all chasing after the dream of easy money.
They intersect with violent and bloody results while hapless Xiao Zhang stumbles along being far luckier than he should be.
The film has been described as being like an animated Tarantino film, but that’s just because it is a violent caper film with some interconnected parts. But where Tarantino likes to have his characters talk at each other and ramble on and monologue between the action, Liu Jian has a more reserved style. Many of the characters barely speak and long passages will go with only action and no dialog and no voice-over. The film reminded me more of True Romance (written by Tarantino but directed by Tony Scott) than any other film.
Have a Nice Day also has a minimalist animation style. It reminds me more of something from Adult Swim. It is a stark contrast to the lush multi-layered animation of Studio Ghibli or Disney. Often a static background will be broken by one or two animated areas. It draws the eye and focuses the attention but sometimes left me scanning the screen for anything else that might be moving. Combined with the sparse dialog, the animation created a great sense of dejection and despair that permeated the lives of these desperate characters.
The film took three years to make with Liu Jian doing most of the animation himself. This is Liu’s second feature length animated film and at 77 minutes doesn’t overstay its welcome.
This is an engaging film that brought together many elements of life on the edges in Southern China. I plan on watching it again and telling all of my alt-animation friends to do the same.
Have a Nice Day is now available on DVD.