MOZART FROM SPACE (外太空的莫扎特) (2022)

Genre: Comedy/Fantasy
Director: Chen Sicheng
Cast: Huang Bo, Rong Zishan, Yao Chen, Fan Wei, Huangyang Tiantian 
Runtime: 2 hrs 16 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 25 August 2022

Synopsis: Ren Dawang (Huang Bo) wishes for his astronomy enthusiast son Ren Xiaotian (Rong Zishan) to become a pianist and their differences have become a source of their constant quarrels. One day, a mysterious alien Mozart appears before them. Mozart helps Ren Xiaotian in a "battle of wits and courage" against his father. What Ren Xiaotian never expected was that Mozart came to Earth with another mission…

Movie Review:

By any measure, it would have been terribly challenging to follow up after the wildly successful ‘Detective Chinatown’ trilogy. What then motivated writer-director Chen Sicheng to do so with this whimsical science-fiction comedy is anybody’s guess, but we’re quite sure the reception won’t be anywhere as raucous. Yet though it doesn’t boast the same wacky sense of humour, ‘Mozart from Space’ is a surprisingly heartfelt drama that bears more than a worthy lesson or two about parent-child expectations.

Key to that is the surprisingly poignant relationship between the 13-year-old Ren Xiaotian (Rong Zishan) and his father Ren Dawang (Huang Bo), who live together in a humble apartment after his parents’ divorce. Xiaotian dreams of being an astronomer, but Dawang wants only for his son to become the next Lang Lang; and despite Xiaotian’s protests, Dawang insists on nothing less than for Xiaotian to spend at least half an hour each day practicing on the grand piano in his room.

At school, Xiaotian often daydreams in class, much to the chagrin of his literature teacher Mr Deng (Jia Bing). Xiaotian’s only friend in school is a bespectacled nerd named Xi Hao (Wang Yiming), and he has a crush on a sweet schoolmate named Jie Ling (Huangyang Tiantian). All that changes when Xiaotian is visited by an alien being named Mozart who takes over the panda stuffed toy he had received from his younger stepbrother; and whilst Xiaotian is intrigued by Mozart’s super powers, it turns out that the latter has been sent from the future for a very important mission.

It isn’t difficult to guess that the mission has something to do with ensuring that Xiaotian fulfils his dreams of becoming an astronomer; nor for that matter is it hard to fathom that Xiaotian and Mozart will develop an indelible bond which will lead to one risking his life in order to save the other. At 2 hours and 15 minutes though, that journey gets a little too self-indulgent for its own good, especially as it aims to weave in a school bully Ma Yuan (Fang Zhou) and a cult devoted to alien worship led by a self-delusional princess (Yao Chen) into the narrative.

It is to Chen’s credit that he manages to pull these disparate strings together into a coherent whole in the last half-hour, with Xiaotian rallying his friends to save Mozart and Dawang joining in to help his son after having an epiphany about his parenting ways. Indeed, Dawang’s reason for compelling Xiaotian to become a world-class pianist is an affecting reminder of the inevitable tendencies parents cast on their children, often borne out from their own past experience, however well-intentioned that may be. The ending is also a heart-warming affirmation of the importance of supporting our children in pursuing their ambitions, and a tidy finish for an otherwise untidy film.

Though comparisons with the ‘Detective Chinatown’ series have not been kind, Chen’s follow-up still holds its own disorderly charm, in part from a genuinely likeable performance by Rong as Xiaotian as well as a delightfully wry turn from a stuffed toy panda. At the very least, the young ones won’t be bored despite its overly indulgent runtime, while parents will resonate not only with Dawang’s anxieties but also Chen’s artistic choices (such as his interpretation of the classic ‘Moon River’). If you’re in the mood for whimsy-feely, you’ll find plenty of feels with ‘Mozart from Space’.

Movie Rating:

(Equal parts whimsical and heart-warming, 'Mozart from Space' makes up for its over-indulgence with sincerity, heart and laughs)

Review by Gabriel Chong



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