Stephen Chow has something for younger fry in CJ7 (in Cantonese with English subtitles), which may be his version of E.T.
The director of Shaolin Soccer knows how to entertain in a broad way, though not with similar audiences this time around.
Nevertheless, some amusement comes his rather widowed, low-key construction worker trying to make ends meet for himself and son Dicky, played by nine-year-old actor Xu Jiao. It's clear early on that the kid isn't that well liked by fellow pupils and some instructors at school.
This sentimental tale of admiration gets going once Dicky receives a "toy" dad retrieves from the local landfill.
In Dicky's possession it becomes a glowing magical creature, not so unlike man's best friend. There's something life-affirming in this cute new friend, that would work in a Jane Austen novel, as romance is on the horizon for dad in the form of a sweet teacher (Kitty Zhang).
Chow keeps it all family-friendly, even with speckles of violence amid the wry, slapstick situations. But, as good as young Jiao is, CJ7 doesn't really engage much beyond little bursts of visual energy with the action-director seemingly too restrained.