Directed by: Tim Johnson.
Written by: Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember based on the book by Adam Rex.
Starring: Jim Parsons (Oh), Rihanna (Gratuity 'Tip' Tucci), Steve Martin (Captain Smek), Jennifer Lopez (Lucy), Matt Jones (Kyle), Brian Stepanek (Gorg Commander / Father / Boov).
There is nothing really wrong with Home – the new animated film from Dreamworks. The film is colorful, without being headache inducing, moves quickly without getting confused or muddled. It has decent voice work, and has some decent jokes throughout – jokes that thankfully rarely getting bogged down either in toilet humor or pop culture references, like some of Dreamworks other animated films. The film moves along fairly quickly, and in the final act, actually does touch on some emotions that will make big softies (like myself) tear up a little bit. My three and a half year old daughter was transfixed by the movie – and liked it even more I think because there weren’t really any “bad guys” in the film – just people with differing goals. She had a blast. I didn’t mind Home while it was playing – but to me it is the very definition of a mediocre movie – a mildly enjoyable film while it plays, and one that is instantly forgettable once it’s over.
The film is about the alien race, the Boov. Led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin), the Boov spend their entire existence running away from their mortal enemies, the Gorg. The Boov are small, cute little aliens – with multiple feet, long horn like ears, who change color based on their emotions. They are also, like seeming many aliens, motivated purely on logic. Anything that doesn’t serve an immediate purpose is gotten rid of – and anything with a bad probability of success isn’t even attempted. They move from one planet to the next – taking over, until the Gorg finds them, and then they’re off again. Their latest conquest is, you guessed it, Earth. Through a series of events too complicated to explain, one Boov – Oh (Jim Parsons), who doesn’t fit in with the rest (because he screws up a lot) has to team up with a 13 year old girl, Tip (Rihanna) and go on a journey. She needs to find her mom – who, like the rest of humanity except for her, has been relocated to Australia, and he needs to hide, because he has inadvertently screwed over his entire race. These things happen.
You know what will happen. The pair at first don’t understand each other – and don’t like each other much either. But forced together, they slowly start to understand each other and even become friends. Their trip – in a supped up car that hovers and runs on slurpies – is a wonder.
The problem is that once the move establishes its premise, it doesn’t really have much to do until we get to the finale – which is the best part of the movie. The movie spends half its running time on its journey, and really not a whole lot happens on it. We know where the characters are going to end up before they do. There is a lot dancing, and some inoffensive Rihanna songs, scattered through the movie – and they don’t add much, but the do help pass the time.
The film works to a certain extent – and kids will like it. Adults, forced to endure it, will probably not mind it – but the film never does reach the heights of the best animated family films. It’s just kind of there – not good, not bad, just there.