CJ7 (2008)

Directed by
7/10 - How cute can you get?
Reviewed by Simon on 2008-02-03

A kid from a disadvantaged family feels hard done by because he doesn't have the latest toys his schoolmates do, but then he finds an alien who's basically the coolest toy going. He has some adventures, then has to learn some lessons. It's a long time since I saw E.T. but the story is essentially the same, as I remember it.

Stephen Chiau's latest movie continues his embrace of CGI technology, this time used to explore just how cute it's possible for a computer generated character to be. The result is CJ7, a sort of furball fusion of puppy, kitten and baby that is brilliantly animated. Stephen seems to be stepping further and further back from the lead with each movie he directs, and is really just a supporting character in CJ7 - the lead roles being the young girl who plays his son (!) and the CGI.

CJ7 moves away from the slapstick/absurdist humour that Chiau is known for, with some obvious exceptions, and seems to be trying more to tell a story that tugs on the heart-strings. Some of the devices he uses for this are decidedly unsubtle, but often effective. I remember going to see E.T. with my grandmother as a child, and she bet I would cry - determined as I was to prove her wrong, she won the bet. I didn't tear up in CJ7, but there was one spot that tested me a little.

I found it hard to enjoy Kung Fu Hustle the first time I saw it, because it wasn't the movie I was expecting it to be - I had to see it a second time to really appreciate it on its own terms. It's possible the same will be true of CJ7, as I had a similar feeling of waiting for the movie to really start right up to the final scenes - as such, the score is a very tentative 7/10.

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