'CJ7' nothing but simple sentimental drivel
By G. Michael Dobbs
There's another mixed lot of DVDs in this week's review column.
Son of Rambow
This British film about two lonely school boys finding acceptance through their making their own version of "Rambo," has been sold as an uproarious comedy. The film is quite funny, but it is also much, much more.
First-time actors Bill Milner plays Will Proudfoot, a boy belonging to a religious group that forbids him from watching television and having too much contact with the outside world. Will Poulter is Lee Carter, the school bully whom everyone hates. The two boys connect when Carter tricks Proudfoot into participating in his movie. Much to Carter's surprise, Proudfoot plunges enthusiastically into the production, which turns out to be a sequel of sorts to the first "Rambo" movie.
The result is a funny, but also very touching story about two boys who have suffered a loss and how this filmmaking project allows them to cope.
The film is quite a departure from director and writer Garth Jennings's last film, the big screen adaptation of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." "Son of Rambow" is a much more personal project -- just how personal is revealed in the DVD's extras. Jennings includes the action adventure video he made as a boy.
Funny and moving, this film should be on your rental list.
UFO Hunters: First Season
As dedicated readers of this column undoubtedly know by now, I'm drawn like a fly to a Popsicle on the sidewalk to almost anything about UFOs, the supernatural and crypto zoology.
My long-suffering wife merely arches an eyebrow when she catches me watching this stuff. She does a great impression of the guys from "Ghost Hunters" -- she starts shivering and wraps her arms around herself murmuring, "It's cold. It's cold."
Well, she didn't watch any of this new series from the History Channel with me and that was a good thing as what I watched was pretty lame.
The premise of the show is that Bill Birnes, the publisher of "UFO Magazine," picks a UFO case and gathers his team of investigators to go out to "solve" it. The problem is the investigations on camera leave very much to be desired. In one show, the key to proving an incident actually happened is recovering stones from a bay that were supposedly the results of a UFO dumping some sort of molten slag. One diver is involved in the search for this material and he brings back one small rock that he thinks could be an example of the slag. It wasn't.
One would think there would be a team of divers looking around the bay along an organized grid bringing back hundreds of stones for analysis. I guess we don't have the budget for that.
Birnes, almost always in sunglasses and a baseball hat, seems to fancy himself as some sort of film noir detective. The posturing doesn't help the show's credibility.
Another show focused on UFOs that go underwater and again a key piece of evidence that help prove a UFO event truly took place couldn't be found.
It's tough to be a true believer, especially when shows like this are out there.
Hong Kong filmmakers have long looked to American films for inspiration and Stephen Chow is no exception. Chow was once primarily known just to Chinese audiences, as his films were largely comedies oftentimes filled with puns playing on the differences between the Mandarin and Cantonese dialects.
Puns aside, his earlier Chinese films were fun, mixing and matching Asian and Western references.
Chow came to the attention of American audiences with "Shaolin Soccer," a CGI-filled athletic comedy and that was followed by his hit, "Kung Fu Hustle."
"CJ7" is his latest film and to be frank I couldn't force myself to watch part of it. It was so sentimental and so predictable that I just couldn't do it.
The story involves a day laborer living in poverty with his son. He tries to provide the best he can for himself and the boy and when he can't afford the hot toy everyone in his son's school has he does what he can do scours a dump to find something for his son.
What he finds is a ball that is really an egg left behind by a UFO. Inside is a small creature that immediately loves the son and enables him to overcome bullies at school and other problems.
Chow telegraphs the film's ending early on, which gives the film a major story problem.
Cute little creatures and kids in peril are not my favorite film subjects and I think Chow had a miss-step with this film.
The DVD has a lengthy making-of feature that actually was more interesting than the film itself. It turns out the little boy in the film is a played by a little girl!