Instead of receiving his elementary school diploma, a smart, sassy boy decides to run away to his best friend’s house in China’s Shanxi province in “Don’t Expect Praises,” an exceedingly good-natured Chinese-Korean co-production whose modest aims are realized largely through its young actors’ endearingly naturalistic perfs. Some gorgeously Miyazaki-esque animated interludes — illustrating the kids’ fantasies and embellished stories, mostly of catching fish — may seem out of place in the realist milieu, but they hardly diminish the pic’s loose, gregarious feel. Stateside regional fests should expect praises for screening writer-director Yang Jin’s playful ode to rural Chinese pre-teendom.Yang Jiaobo (Li Shuchen) is a star student whose buddy Yang Jin (Wang Chen) can’t get a decent grade, much to his family’s chagrin. Wiling away hours by fishing in the river and one-upping each other’s tall tales, the boys seem mismatched at first, but eventually the viewer recognizes their shared love of doing nothing much. As days progress, Jiaobo begins to worry that he’s staying too long at his pal’s, and schemes to secure a single yuan for a bus ride to his grandma’s. HD lensing is a tad blurry.
A Heaven Pictures Culture and Media Co. production. Produced by Shang Yubo, Zhang Jun, Li Zhifeng. Executive producers, Gao Hong, Shang Yunhua. Directed, written by Yang Jin.
Camera (color, HD), Li Hongjian; editor, Yang; music, Xiaohe; animation, Zhang Bo; sound, Wang Changrui. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Winds of Asia-Middle East), Oct. 21, 2012. Running time: 108 MIN.
Li Shuchen, Wang Chen. (Mandarin dialogue, Shanxi dialect)