What the Hell?

CJ7, Stephen Chow’s latest movie, was released in China at the end of last month. It’s already showing at Reading Market City, in a limited engagement – and what the heck is it? I really couldn’t tell you. The allegedly heartwarming but more likely “what the heck?” adventure of a young boy, his impoverished father, and the alien that he brings home from the dump. It’s also an examination of how there’s no use in sending your son to a private school if he doesn’t do any work, and how OH&S is the most important thing in the world.

Dicky Chow is poor. He cannot afford toys. When the ball that his father fetches from the dump turns out to be an alien dog-thing, a new adventure is born!

Except there’s not that much adventure to it. CJ7 is an odd duck of a movie; the centrepiece of comedy, replete with shot for shot remakes of a scene from Kung Fu Hustle makes no sense – and then turns out to have been a dream sequence anyway. I spent a large amount of this movie turning to Oliver and Vanessa in the seats next to me and putting my arms up in the universal motion of “I’ve got nothing”.
Don’t take this as a negative reading of the film, though: I spent a great deal of it laughing, and part of that may have been due to my trying to figure out what the heck was going on. This is nothing like E.T.: CJ7 – for that is the name bestowed upon the alien thing by Dicky – has no interest in going home, but rather a simple interest in being a pet. Heck, there’s not even any controversy about government agencies wanting to come in and claim back the alien. There is conflict between the rich bully kids with their weird hairstyles and bad dubbing and Dicky, and conflict between Dicky and his father (which, blah blah, true heart of the movie), but none of it flows.

The unwritten law of these sorts of comedies is that they have to go super maudlin before they return to the super-happy status quo. CJ7 is no exception to this rule, and covers this ground in spades. On top of that, the theme song for the movie is “Sunny”, by Boney M. I don’t think there really is anything more that can be said than that. Americans can look forward to being confused by CJ7 in March.

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