Played at the LAAPFF 2022 at the Directors Guild of America May 7, 2022 12:15 pm (buy tickets)
Update: It’s coming to VOD beginning Sept 6, 2022 courtesty of Well GO USA.
Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy is a fun Vietnamese movie that will be very familiar to anyone who knows Steven Spielberg’s work. It’s not meant to be thoughtful, but instead has fun with the boy meets alien girl concept. It’s also considered this country’s first family friendly created content that’s playing at specific film festivals before getting a wider release.
The story focuses on how Hung (Phu Truong) is having a rough go at life. He’s lost his mom to cancer and although that was over a year ago, his father doesn’t understand his boy. He tries to make ends meet to support them both. But he’s hardly ever around for the boy. While out on his own, Hung meets Maika (Diep Anh Chu), an alien who needs help. His frenemy, Beo (Tin Tin) and his older brother serves as comedic relief. The former is a chubby tyke who almost steals the movie. He’s clearly having fun playing up that spoiled child role–a stark contrast to who Hung is.
I found the tale deliciously engaging because of the Asian perspective on why family bonds matter. Usually it concerns something distancing generations, but this time, it’s just that the father doesn’t know how to cope.
Writer/director Hàm Trần is also borrowing from CJ7, made by Stephen Chow, because the humour is more reflective of this Chinese director’s work. While this story is hardly original, I found myself fully hooked because of the chemistry between the lead and alien. There’s tiny hints of infatuation, and it doesn’t really develop beyond that.
Ultimately, the real story reveals itself. Hung is also having problems dealing with the loss of his mother. What it takes is an alien showing him how to move on. That’s the charm, and I’d watch this film again in a heartbeat.
4 Stars out of 5