Laura CliffordTi Chow (Stephen Chow), though miserably poor, wants a better life for his son, Dicky (Xu Jiao). He scrimps on everything to be able to afford to send the boy to an exclusive private school to put him on the road to that better life. The other, well-off boys at the school own THE prestige toy, a robot dog called CJ1. Dicky, of course, wants one, too, but Ti cannot afford it. Fortune, and an alien space ship, step in, leaving a mysterious orb that will become the ultimate pet and Dicky dubs it “CJ7.”
Stephen Chow’s last work, three years ago, was the wonderfully quirky martial arts comedy, “Kung Fu Hustle.” He tries to go to that well, again, with a stab at creating an equally quirky kids’ flick. The result is a mishmash of genres that is fitfully entertaining and loaded with schmaltz.
Ti doggedly tries to instill worthwhile moral lessons on his son – never lie, never steal and always be a good person. While searching a trash dump for a “new” pair of sneakers for Dicky, a UFO rises out of the detritus and takes off, leaving the above-mentioned orb. Ti takes the strange object home and gives it to the boy. At first, it seems to be just a very bouncy ball but this changes when Dicky triggers something in the orb and out pops a funny little creature he names CJ7.
When CJ7 converts a rotting apple (the only kind the Chows can afford) into a fresh crisp one, Dicky concludes that the little critter is magical. He envisions CJ7 helping him get 100% on his tests, become a super athlete and make his life easier. However, these are not powers within CJ7’s capabilities and Dicky turns angry at the little space dog. When Ti has a terrible accident, Dicky prays to have his father come home and care for him. This is where CJ7’s magic will make a difference to the Chows lives.
Stephen Chow’s odd combination of morality, selfishness, kung fu, science fiction, dog-like creature from another world, kid playing cute, tragedy and hope make for a hodge podge kind of film. CJ7 is appealing in a demented chiapet way but there are acts of violence – Ti spanking Dicky in public, the boy’s abuse of CJ7 for not getting what he wants, an “Kung Fu Hustle”-style fight between a large fat schoolgirl and an equally fat though not as large schoolboy – that make it not so suitable for younger kids, even though the “ET”-like creature is aimed at them. I also had a problem with a father-son bonding scene where Ti and Dicky compete at killing very large cockroaches while the have dinner. Yuck!
You always want to like a critter from space comedy but sometimes you just can’t. “CJ7” is one of those films. I give it a C-.
Laura did not see this film.
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