Review: ‘25 Kids & One Dad’

Beneath its sappy title, "25 Kids & One Dad" is an enjoyable, more-than-respectable helming debut by Huang Hong, one of China's most popular writer-comics.

Beneath its sappy title, “25 Kids & One Dad” is an enjoyable, more-than-respectable helming debut by Huang Hong, one of China’s most popular writer-comics. Based on a true story, yarn about a chicken farmer who adopts a horde of brats is a well-shot, inventive and often very funny pic that should be an audience pleaser among festgoers and even get grudging admiration from Sinophile crix. Specialized webs should sign up.

Because he once offered on TV to adopt orphans, kindly Hebei peasant Zhao Guang (Huang) finds an army of ragamuffins outside his farm one day. Most aren’t genuine applicants, but 25 are, so Zhao knuckles down to his promise, seeing his savings of 30,000 yuan ($3,600) trickle away on clothing and food. His fiancee, Guiqing (Li Lin), resents the intrusion, and her mother (vet Siqin Gaowa) is openly hostile, but Zhao perseveres, organizing his tyke workforce with military precision. Huang salts the goody-goody material with dry wit, often undercutting a scene with a humorous jibe or bawdy joke. Perfs are colorful rather than overplayed, location lensing is nicely textured and editing is tight; only the score is too much.

25 Kids & One Dad

China

Production

A Shanxi Film Studio, Beijing Oriental Time Culture & Communication Co., Movie Channel Program Center, China Charity Federation production. (International sales: Beijing Oriental, Beijing.) Produced by Li Shuihe. Executive producer, Cao Yenxia. Executive in charge of production, Zou Ling. Directed, written by Huang Hong, based on his novel.

Crew

Camera (color), Wang Xiaolie; editor, Zhou Xinxia; music, Zou Ye; art director, Xu Junhai; costume designers, Liang Xuejie, Li Xin. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 30, 2002. Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Huang Hong, Li Lin, Lei Kesheng, Siqin Gaowa, Yu Lan, Huang Zhaohan, Li Song, Yu Hao, Zhang Yinghong, Jia Erwa, Zhao Ran, Fan Lei, Zhou Wei.
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