By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It’s not often that you see an animated film in competition at a major world film festival, much less an adult one originating from outside of Hollywood. Not only was the Chinese-produced Have a Nice Day in competition in Berlin last year, but it showed better than most all of the films there.
Except, inexplicably, yet another Hong Sang-soo snoozer…
Have a Nice Day follows a bag of money between gangsters and petty criminals in industrial Northeast China, as they bumble their way towards achieving some very modest dreams with it.
Have a Nice Day really is a unique concoction, from the animation style that combines bold minimalist lines on humans with highly detailed, near photographic backgrounds with just the right mix of traditional Asian painting touches to its laconic, dark sense of humor- fully of wry irony, like a decaying police officer statue propped up in front of a corn field a thief drives through behind.
The film’s very slow-paced, but to its benefit- chock full of lots of beautiful stills of very ugly places and poetic interludes and philosophizing that call play like a Chinese animated version of Fargo (the TV show, more accurately). The plot, which pulls together unique characters of varying degrees of criminality and competence, culminates in a violent confrontation of all of the parties over the money bag in a bittersweet display of futility and dysfunction that would do both the Coens and Noah Hawley proud.
For a movie so committed to finding the ridiculous of real life for these characters, the inventor’s weird sci-fi tinges, like his X-ray glasses, is tough to reconcile. Admittedly, though, his last “toy” was an badass surprise. Also admittedly, for a self-professed Fargo fan, it’s at least more sensible than UFOs…
Have a Nice Day is an animated Chinese oddity that should play like gangbusters for fans of the worldview and plotting of TV’s Fargo.
Have a Nice Day (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for disturbing paintings
Take a Drink: whenever anyone smokes
Take a Drink: whenever anybody gets knocked out
Take a Drink: for Communist propaganda music video breakdown yeah!
Do a Shot: Trump!