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.