By Fred Topel | Image property of Sony Pictures Classics.
CJ7 isn't quite like Stephen Chow's recent hits, Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer. It's got the visual effects and cartoon antics, but it's trying too hard to be a heartwarming family movie. That spoils some of the fun.
Movie Review: CJ7
Ti (Chow) is a poor father to Dicky Chow (Xu Jiao) who just wants to have toys like the other kids. Since Ti can't afford anything, he scours the dump and ends up giving Dicky an alien pet. Dubbed CJ7, after an electronic dog toy, the alien uses all his crazy powers to change Dicky's life.
Chow has fun with poverty. They come up with some creative activities for the father and son in squalor. There are hints of the Stephen Chow touch in Dicky's school life too, with fat kids' shaking the frame with lumbering sound effects.
The Chow aesthetic really kicks into gear when CJ7 reveals himself. He's a cute little furball, but no Mogwai. The first few effects aren't really effective, just some pretty pictures, nothing clever. He quickly starts playing with CJ7 though.
The film exhausts all the possibly alien powers CJ7 could have, even having it both ways with beneficial and detrimental ones. The super toy accessories are fun and there are some spoofs like Mission Impossible's exploding glasses. When kids start fighting there are some Kung Fu Hustle style sequences.
One of the problems though is that it's all about the kid. Stephen Chow is hardly in the movie, and he hardly gets to do anything at that. Surely this was intentional, as he clearly set out to make a kids movie, but Chow's presence is sorely missed from the production.
He was inspired by E.T. to make this story and you can tell he just took all the elements and switched them up a little bit. It's got family, kids, bullies, a creature, even a moral. It's just a warped view of it, and warped execution.