Birthday Boy (2004)

Director: Sejong Park

Tagline: The most famous Korean War story since M*A*S*H?

With the attention this movie has received after its 2005 Academy Awards nomination, you probably don’t need a recap of the story. I will instead give my reasons why I think it is a great movie.

I have to admit I do have a problem with computer animation compared to the traditional hand drawn type. People seem to concentrate on how slick it is and forget that this comes at the cost of the character of the final product. While I have yet to see a computer animated movie that matches the bursting at the seems style of Max Fleischer (early Superman cartoons), films like this one are going in the right direction to redress that balance.

What struck me about this movie was how solid all the textures on scenery and objects were as it helped to make a believable environment. Knowing the millions companies like Pixar spend on their movies, it is great to see the same techniques used in a comparatively smaller production.

I liked the backgrounds also and noticed a credit for a ‘matte painter’. They really add to the movie as they are beautiful and nicely understated at the same time.

Somewhat differently to most CGI movies, the on-screen characters retained a cartoon-like quality which makes for a more enjoyable movie. After all, if you wanted to watch totally realistic actors perform you would watch a live action movie.

(Final Fantasy was probably the worst offender in this regard, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a compromise between the two styles.)

The most surprising thing about this movie is that will give me a reason to watch the Oscars for only the second time ever.

I may be getting my hopes up, but I also hope that it encourages more Australian filmmakers to make a really great short film. Toiling away on a feature production that may not even get distribution or anyone coming to see it is a mug’s game.

Rating: 10/10

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