CJ7 (Sony Pictures Classics, PG)

cj75.jpgWhile I liked it quite a bit more than I expected, I can’t say what audience this movie could possibly find. People who like both family films and Asian action films? I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

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You’ve probably heard the term “Hard R” before, which is a reference to a film that is rated R by the MPAA, but pushes the boundaries of the rating very hard; in other words, it’s the most offensive or violent or sexual or whatever a film can be before being slapped with a NC-17. Think the Jackass movies, the Hostel movies, think anything Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been up to, whatever. You know what I’m talking about.

For CJ7, the new family film from Stephen Chow, the writer/director/star/producer/God knows what else behind one of my favorite films of 2005, Kung Fu Hustle, I’m inventing the term “Hard PG.” The trailers and posters for the film lead you to believe that CJ7 is a family film of the classic order (Chow has stated that E.T. was a direct influence on the film, and it shows)—it’s about a poor, widowed father (Chow’s Ti) working an inhuman amount to send his young son Dicky (Jiao Xu) to a private school and the hardships they face, until Dicky befriends an alien whom he dubs “CJ7” (after a robotic dog all of his classmates have but that he can’t afford). The PG and this marketing is kind of misleading, though, as the film is a fair amount more offensive than, say, the also PG-rated The Incredibles or Shrek. CJ7 has two instances where someone says “bullshit,” two “dumbasses,” one “dickhead,” a brief (but effective) scare where it looks like someone hangs themselves, and an extended scene of CJ7 graphically pooping. I mean, E.T. had a “penis breath” (I still use that one sometimes… ) and a “shit,” but seriously, how’d CJ7 get a PG?

And therein lies the problem—it seems that the people who go to see this expecting a delightful, foreign language family film will be upset at how coarse it sometimes is, and the people who go see it because they loved Kung Fu Hustle and maybe Shaolin Soccer will be disappointed at how kiddy it is. While I liked it quite a bit more than I expected, I can’t say what audience this movie could possibly find. People who like both family films and Asian action films? I don’t know. The only thing that seems certain is that the film probably wouldn’t have even been heard of over here if practically anyone aside from Chow’s name had been attached. | Pete Timmermann

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