a critiQal film review Home (2015)

Plot: After a hive-minded alien race called the Boov conquer the Earth, they relocate the planet's human population - all except for a little girl named Tip (Rihanna), who's managed to hide from the aliens. When Tip meets a fugitive Boov called Oh (Parsons), there's mutual distrust. However, Oh is not like his comrades; he craves friendship and fun. As their distrust fades, the pair set out together to find Tip's mother, but, unbeknown to them, the Gorg - enemies of the Boov - are en route.

726 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 37s)

For this Sunday’s New Movie Review, I delved into my Vudu® account, and came up with Home. A film I’d gotten for the grandkids to watch while they were visiting, I hadn’t really paid any attention as they watched (and re-watched) it. While it seemed to score right up there with Frozen (2013) for them, I sat down to find out if this would work for me as well. Or would my “child-at-heart” attitude be too grown-up for this offering from Dreamworks Animation?

The first character we are introduced to in Home is Oh, a colorful alien Boov, voiced by Jim Parsons (of “The Big Bang Theory” (TV)). Oh (a name obtained from the “oh…” accompanying his visits to his fellow aliens), with his broken English, is a perfect fit for Parsons’ voice, and the TV geek easily blends into his animated self. Among a cast of stars, Parsons is easily the most recognizable voice in the film – and the best fit with his character.

Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, a precocious young girl who goes on some crazy adventures with Oh – and along the way shows the alien the true meaning of family – is voiced by Rihanna. Not easily recognizable as a voice character, she still manages to do a decent job of getting the viewers to like Tip, even if her husky voice (and the animation) make it a little hard to tell if her character is male or female at the beginning.

Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez pop up as well. Steve voices the cowardly leader of the Boov, Captain Smek, and gets to have a little bit of fun it. His character gets to find other uses for common human items ranging from a football to a hair dryer to a BBQ grill, and Steve probably had fun putting a voice to his wacky actions. Meanwhile, J-Lo voices Tip’s mom, and is totally unrecognizable in her few lines.

The plot is geared towards a kid’s film, so isn’t overly complicated. The Boov, a cowardly alien race fleeing from their evil enemy, the Gorgon, takes over Earth – displacing the hapless humans easily with their advanced technology. One of these aliens, Oh, makes a mistake that turns him into a fugitive from the Boov police. On the run, he meets Tip, a young human girl, and this unlikely duo go through several sequences that destroy their preconceived notions about each other, and makes them both the better because of it. That’s basically Home in a nutshell, and this simple framework sets up an adventure full of humor and heart.

Sure, the plot twists are easily guessed at (as they usually are in films geared toward the younger generation), but like a lot of animated films, it’s the getting there that’s the fun part. The animation isn’t quite up to par with what viewers would expect from a Pixar film or the like, and the humor isn’t exactly highbrow, but the journey isn’t half bad anyway, despite the in-your-face way the life lessons are thrust at the viewer. Uneven pacing is a bit of a drawback, though.

Home does try to do some interesting things with the story. Like the powerful beginning sequence of UP, the film tosses the dialogue in favor of swelling music during important moments, and at first, it seems like a good idea. Unfortunately, however, they don’t know to quit while they’re ahead, and that trick starts to get old the longer they keep repeating it. The color changes of the Boov (which showcases their emotions) are also a nice change, albeit another one that seems to get old after a bit.

All in all, Home is a cutesy family friendly film that viewers of all ages should enjoy, at least once. Repeated viewings will probably start to grate on the adults, but kids should eat up the colorful Boov and the trials and tribulations of Tip and Oh. While Pixar and Disney tend to steal the animated show each year, Dreamworks Pictures – with films like Shrek (2001), How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and The Croods (2013), is starting to build a strong reputation for itself. Home, sadly, isn’t quite up there with their best. But, this cutesy family comedy, which benefits from the perfect casting of Jim Parsons, does seem like another good step in the right direction for Dreamworks Animation.

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