Charming, goodhearted kidpic is less interesting for airborne animals than for its observations of life in modern China. Voices in “Hua-Hua” are so artificially recorded, it might not hurt to dub a version for export, resulting in a warm reception from Saturday morning tube programmers.
Story centers on young cousins, a girl in the big city and a boy in a mountainous rural area. The boy, called Little Doggy (Song Chen), has a pet chicken that flies and is as smart as Lassie. Both Doggy and rooster come to mean a lot to doll-like Yuanyuan (Yue Xie), suffering from hysterical blindness since her dad died. She’s also hooked on a kid’s radio show hosted by a self-help guru (Lingliang Zhou) who gets involved when the girl goes missing. Radio subplot touches on individuality and children’s rights — new twists in Chinese cinema. All thesps have great appeal, and the village scenes are full of rustic detail, but pic is marred by basic tech defects, including Ed Wood-level computer-animated flying scenes and laughably cracked subtitles — the best of which has an adult telling one young family member, “Your cuisine is coming to visit you.” Talk about finger-lickin’ good!