A clever take on Spielberg’s evergreen family blockbuster E.T., Hong Kong director Stephen Chow’s CJ7 is a fable about family and friendship. Chow himself plays Ti, a poor widower who works long hours on a construction site so he can send his young son Dicky to an elite private school. At night, father and son return to their sweltering, cockroach-infested shack where the electricity comes and goes. Dicky is a simple little boy who’s constantly bullied at school. His teacher reprimands him daily about his scruffy appearance, and his schoolmates make his life a living hell. While searching for old, discarded clothes for his son in the local dumpyard, Ti discovers a strange green ball that he thinks might pacify Dicky who has been upset ever since his father refused to buy him an expensive toy he had his heart set on.
When placed in Dicky’s hands, this ball transforms into a fluffy little creature with rubber legs and a wagging antena, and makes bleep-bleep sounds. Over time, it reveals to Dicky its magical powers, and the young boy imagines his new friend to be the answer to all his troubles — passing tests in school, doing well in gym class, and even overcoming the school bully. With the arrival of his new friend who he names CJ7, Dicky’s studies suffer, and it takes a personal tragedy for him to toe the line.
A charming, funny tale about doing the right thing, and about getting a second chance in life, CJ7 is a joy to watch because of the lovable little child actor Xu Jiao who plays Dicky. Xu is actually a little girl who is expressive and talented beyond her years, and she plays Dicky with such energy and spirit that you fall in love with Dicky barely ten minutes into the film. This movie will appeal to the young and the young-at-heart because its themes of parental love, sacrifice and friendship are so easy to relate to. There are some hilarious scenes like the ones in which Dicky and his father make cockroach-swatting on the wall into something of a sport, and also the moments with the overgrown school bully.
CJ7 is exactly the kind of film to curl up to on a lazy Sunday afternoon with everyone at home. Serve some chilled lemonade and make an event out of it.