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  • Children of Invention was an entertaining film, to say the least. Director Tze Chun succeeded in telling a serious story while adding subtle, amusing touches that gave viewers a million and one reasons to like it! Casting children in such a movie can be a challenging task; however, the two youngsters chosen for the main leads were absolutely perfect for the roles they played. Crystal Chiu was my personal favorite – I could not think of a better person to portray the cute, naïve, yet intelligent child that she played. If Chun had not selected perfect actors for the characters in this film, I do not think it would have had the same effect.

    Additionally, the story itself was uniquely done and covered a topic that is so prevalent in today's society. Watching the story unfold made me wonder how many other situations similar to this one are occurring across America. Although some of the filming could have been done a bit better, other aspects of the movie made up for these slight flaws. Not many films are made (at least not ones that I have been exposed to) about the plight of Chinese families who are trying to make a decent living in America. It is a bit of an overlooked problem and it was refreshing to see a director step out of the ordinary box and take on the task of making a movie like Children of Invention. Apart from the Chinese aspect, the "Ponzi" schemes that form the backbone of the climactic moment in the film are certainly relevant in American society today. Not only did this aspect reflect things that are currently happening, but it served as an informative lesson for viewers, warning them against the dangers of "get rich quick" schemes.

    Overall, Children of Invention had an excellent balance of tense and sweet moments, truly working together to make an enjoyable film!
  • Tense from the start, not in the _Saw_ sense, but in the sense of anyone with kids who's been thrown out of work and home in a rough economy. Tense with the unsettledness of a single mom with two kids moving into an unfinished apartment building, making arrangements with acquaintances to get her children to and from school. Tense like a hunted animal who's not sure where the next meal is coming from. Maybe my sense of the film is colored by my own life experiences.

    There are light, sweet moments provided by the kids, and periods of relief provided by friends and family. Elaine is a good mom who makes some questionable choices and tries to hide her desperation from her children. She generally succeeds with her little one Tina, but her boy Raymond senses things are not going well. When you're down on your luck, everything, everything costs money, money that you don't have, and Elaine is driven by a belief that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Hard to say more without giving too much away, the story keeps you in the dark and unfolds scene by scene.

    The writing, acting, directing, cinematography, and editing are all first rate and fitting for this type of film. The framing is often tight, adding a claustrophobic effect to the tenseness of the story. Editing is economical. Sound is mostly natural, and the camera is often hand-held giving a semi-documentary feel.

    Cindy Cheung plays the good saleswoman who holds back her emotions and manages to keep up an optimistic front, but as an actress she brings it on when it's time to. Crystal Chiu so cute with her fat cheeks, but she's actually a few years older than her character Tina, so she's able to really get into part, into Tina's skin. Michael Chen's performance is mostly low key, but the emotions of the scene flash across his face even when it doesn't seem like he's doing anything.

    The supporting cast is also very good. My only criticism of the directing is that sometimes a gesture is played before its time. It's not a big deal, but it would be that much better without that.

    On a personal note, there just aren't that many films portraying the lives of Chinese families in America, and there aren't that many Chinese-Americans in my area, so it's nice to see a humanizing film like this. With so much near superhuman stereotyping of Asians these days, it's good to see a story about someone whose life is kind of messed up.

    Finally, the movie was completed in the early Summer of 2008, before the economy crashed, before people were losing their jobs and having their houses foreclosed upon, before the collapse of the Ponzi schemes.
  • I didn't know about "Children of Invention" before now in 2019, ten years after the movie was unleashed. But I stumbled upon it by random luck and decided to give it a chance, as I do enjoy Asian movies. Needless to say that I didn't know this was an Asian-American movie.

    First of all I must say that writer and director Tze Chun actually managed to put together an entertaining movie, albeit the movie differed greatly from the types of movies that I generally watch. While the storyline and plot definitely was hindered by its incredibly slow pacing, then the movie was actually still enjoyable because it was a very realistic and heartfelt movie.

    What helped the movie along greatly was the acting performances by the lead and supporting cast alike. I have not been familiar with Cindy Cheung prior to watching this movie, but she actually was quite good. However, I must admit that the two child performers, Michael Chen and Crystal Chiu, really stole the spotlight. Their performances were amazing, and they really carried the movie so well - despite having a slow paced script to work with.

    While "Children of Invention" turned out to actually be surprisingly good and enjoyable, it is hardly a movie that you will watch more than once. First of all, if the slow pace doesn't deter you from watching it a second time, then the fact that the story doesn't have enough contents to be watched more than once will.

    If you haven't already seen "Children of Invention", and if you get the chance, I would recommend that you actually take the time to watch it, who knows, you might just happen to enjoy it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was expecting so much more from this movie, but all I got was a easily deceived, naive mother that abused her children by keeping them up too late, not feeding them enough and falling for every easy money scheme that came her way. She was the worst as a mother and deserved more jail time. The kids did what they could to survive, but their plans to make a million dollars was a pipe dream that would have never come true from their corny little inventions. That was a waste of 85 minutes.