reviewed by Andrew James
With little gems of fairly unknown greatness (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle) already under his belt, Chow doesn't ever seem to disappoint. I sort of consider his films to be live-action cartoons, but serious enough to take on real world issues and concerns. With his newest, CJ7, it's a movie about friendship, bullying, poverty and integrity all wrapped around the story of an adorable, little space alien.
Dicky and his father, Ti (Chow) are poorer than poor. Living in a shanty with no windows and roaches climbing the walls, they make due with what they've got (which obviously isn't much). Ti works desperately hard and long hours to keep his son in an expensive private school as to provide opportunities for his son that he never had. Both the father and son have similar difficulties in their daily lives. Ti with a slave-driving and cruel boss and Dickey with his bullying classmates and overbearing teacher. Of course Dickey is saddened by the fact that other kids in school have all the latest and neatest toys, while his father can barely afford to keep rice and rotten apples on the dinner table.
One day though, while searching for some new shoes for his son in the city dump, Ti comes across a funny little green ball. Taking it home to his son, Dickey is less than enthused about such a low-tech toy. But it soon becomes apparent that this is more than just a green ball as it births a cute little alien that looks like a fuzzy headed green star with puppy dog qualities. This new pet seems to have "magical" healing abilities and soon Dickey and CJ7 are best of friends. But does this new toy change Dicky and Ti's life for the better or for the worse?
Chow is known for his quirky movies that are full of the unexpected and giggle-inducing characters. While CJ7 seems to definitely be more restrained than Chow's previous efforts, it still has a lot of the off-kilter hilarity that we've come to expect. Namely, larger than life characters that somehow defy the laws of physics in one way or another. But the character that takes the cake is CJ7 himself. This dancing, twisting, magical little being is what makes us want to watch the screen and keeps us interested - inane, poop jokes and all. He's cute and cuddly and squishy and stretchy at the same time.
The CGI in the movie is kept to a minimum and mostly only used for the small, alien character. It isn't top notch stuff that we come to expect from Hollywood, but it does the trick and is adequate for what the story asks of it. Still, some of the compositing is noticeably inferior, so just don't expect a special effects blow-out, if that's your thing.
CJ7 is a modern, whacky retelling of Spielberg's ET. With a PG rating, it should be easily accessible for kids and parents alike. While not particularly deep or introspective, a cute protagonist that while never laugh out loud hilarious, it's cute as a button and will keep you guessing as to what trick it may have up its sleeve next. Like its predecessors, CJ7 should easily keep a slap-happy grin plastered across your face for 90 minutes.
Flixster Profile for CJ7