From the rural Sichuan countryside to the city of Zigong, Xu Yun travels to find the father he hasn’t seen in years, and the teenage boy’s confrontations with locals plays as a kind of fish-out-of-water comedy. This is an inadvertent effect imparted via Taking Father Home‘s clumsy acting and aloof, sub-protozoan video image, which cheapen Ying Liang’s true intent to seriously call out a government’s inhumane policies. After a petty criminal punks Xu Yun out of the geese his mother gives him to use as currency, a police officer helps the boy find his father but still advises he give up because of Zigong’s size. Too bad Xu Yun would have trouble finding his errant paterfamilias even if the city had a population of two, given that the kid maintains eye contact only with his navel. Liang avoids sentimentality, but that’s because he regards even the kindhearted with a cynicism that’s as histrionic as the trajectory he traces for Xu Yun from lackadaisical start to bloody end. Still, if you ignore the film’s low-budget limitations and heed Liang’s canny framing and the radio and TV waves that constantly transmit information about identification numbers, flooding, and an upbeat government’s social reforms, you may appreciate the ballsy critique of a nation’s callous obsession with development and reconstruction.