'CJ7' suffers greatly from director's heavy hand

The Baltimore Sun

Here's a tip for any filmmaker anxious to reveal his or her inner grade-schooler. Shift your gaze to high school or risk baggy-pants bathos - exaggerated juvenile weepiness and mirth. That's what Stephen Chow winds up with in the unendurable CJ7.

Steven Spielberg leaped from adolescent fantasist to poet of childhood in E.T., and Chow, the wiseacre auteur of Kung Fu Hustle (2004), attempts to do something similar with CJ7. It's the story of a poor Hong Kong boy (played by Jiao Xu -- a girl!), whose father, a manual laborer (played by Chow), discovers an alien green orb that turns into Gizmo from Gremlins, crossbred with Short Circuit's robot Number 5. (The boy names the creature CJ7, to suggest that it's seven stages beyond CJ1, a robot dog.)

CJ7 (Sony Pictures Classics) Starring Stephen Chow, Jiao Xu. Directed by Stephen Chow. Rated PG for language, some rude humor and brief smoking. Time 86 minutes.

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