Movie of the Day – CJ7
April 10, 2012 4 Comments
I picked a bit of a lighthearted film today after yesterday’s chambra film. If you aren’t familiar with Stephen Chow films, then this movie might be a bit too much in terms of the comedy and visuals. I have always enjoyed Chow’s films, mainly from the perspective of the Looney Tunes like quality in the humor and visuals. His films take on a life of their own, each a bit more unique than the last, but still retaining a certain element that makes them endearing amongst all the visual sight gags and wacky story telling. While his past films dealt with soccer and hustling, he still manages to retain a personal message throughout each of the films and ultimately has meaning to us in the end. For me, CJ7 is one of the more mature films with a slight touch of family fun and adventure.
Ti (Chow) is a poor construction worker who breaks his back to ensure that his young son Dicky (Xu Jiao) can stay enrolled in an exclusive private school. But while Ti does everything possible to give his son the opportunities that he never had, Dicky still feels like a classroom reject due to his tattered clothes and lack of the latest toys. Dicky’s classmates all play with the coolest and most expensive gadgets that money can buy, so how is a kid who gets his toys from the local junkyard ever supposed to fit in? One day, while scrounging through the trash heap in search of a new toy, Ti discovers a mysterious orb and brings it straight back to Dicky. Though at first the “CJ7″ appears to be little more than an unidentifiable oddity, it proves to be much, much more once the young boy starts to play with it. This isn’t your average action figure, but a living “pet” with extraordinary powers. Realizing that his new toy may be just the thing to help him fit in with his demanding classmates, Dicky brings the CJ7 to school with him in order to show it off and have some fun. But the CJ7 has its own ideas about how to have fun, and it isn’t long before the situation at school gets hopelessly out of hand. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
I will say again, if you aren’t familiar with Chow’s story telling and visuals from past films like Shaolin Soccer or Kung-Fu Hustle, you might not outright enjoy the way he directs or acts. That’s not to say it is relatable, but he has a certain over the top aspect that just might cause a bit of disconnect, unless of course you were raised on Looney Tunes and a lot slapstick humor. CJ7 is a bit more tempered in terms of the comedy, but manages to find a nice balance between a science fiction and comedy film.
The story is pretty common in a sense, if you have seen a movie like Lilo and Stitch or other Disney ilk, that you will be able to follow along with the foreign film. The message that is conveyed is through the family dynamic between the father and son, plus the introduction of the alien which acts as the plot device that leads to the overbearing message of the film. I didn’t care for the hammering of the message that money doesn’t buy happiness or whatever, we know that old adage so repeating it with visuals and sayings is a bit much. I can’t fault Chow for going that route with the tone of his film, but I would have liked to enjoy more the time between him and the son while they cope with the current socio level in life.
From an entertainment standpoint, I liked the film a lot. Chow brings together his usual comedic value to the film and with some interesting visuals, manages to make a funny sci-fi romp. What loses the edge a bit is the story and telegraphed message they want to convey, which just kind of overshadows the film itself. I get that he wanted to make a more family friendly film that is accessible to everyone, but I had some expectations that weren’t met. I would like to see more physical and wacky comedy from like in Shaolin Soccer or Kung-Fu Hustle, but for a good sci-fi film, CJ7 is good.