Stephen Chow goes down an E.T. route with CJ7, a cute and cuddly family film that not only fails to generate the exhilarating cartoon zaniness of his heralded Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle but, more importantly, lacks any convincing magic or heart. Living in a cramped little shack with his construction worker father Ti (Chow), young Dicky (Xu Jiao) is picked on by class bullies and harassed by a teacher who looks down on him for being penniless and filthy. Clamoring for a robot-dog toy called CJ1, Dicky instead gets a green, rubbery ball found in a garbage dump by Dad, a dull gift that soon becomes incredible when it transforms into a furry four-legged alien that the kid dubs CJ7. Despite writer/director/star Chow’s penchant for off-the-wall antics, Dicky and his otherworldly pal’s adventures together are surprisingly mundane. More unexpected, though, is the uneasy melding of fantasy and reality – most specifically with a dream-vs.-waking life sequence involving the creature’s powers, which falls flat because the film otherwise wholly amalgamates the ordinary and extraordinary into one wacky stew. CJ7 tackles social friction between the rich and poor and has Ti repeatedly lecture his son about the importance of studying, being honest, and not stealing, instances of gentle social moralizing that – despite an endearing lead performance by Xu Jiao (who’s actually a girl!) – are turned lifeless by Chow’s overarching inability to come up with an extraterrestrial, or a story, worth becoming emotionally invested in.