Review: Home

I’m trying to retain some of my memory regarding yesterday’s screening of the new DreamWorks animated adventure titled Home and the more I try to hold on the more I realize that this movie was a big swing and a miss, rather than a home-run. The humor of this film is substituted for irony and tries to manage by skating through on completely dated cliches and weak slapstick-humor.

The gist of Home is as follows: a race of cowardly aliens called the Boov are fleeing in terror from a scary species called the Gorg because their fearful “leader” Captain Smek, voiced by Steve Martin, stole something valuable from them at a peace conference. Now these yellow-bellied aliens, whose skin changes color every time they experience a new sensation, a la a mood ring, try to find refuge on Earth by, surprisingly, conquering the Earth in a sweeping fashion and relocating the entire human population to Australia, the irony of holding humanity on the continent/country that was once a prison colony is obvious and apparently the writers of the film, Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, as well as the author of the story “The True Meaning of Smekday,” Adam Rex, picked up on that.

So, this happy-go-unlucky/accident-prone little Boov, dubbed Oh, voiced by Golden Globe winner Jim Parsons, unintentionally invited the Gorg to a house-party, where no one showed up, thus he transforms from a pain-in-the-ass annoyance to his own people to fugitive and seeks refuge on the only continent where there is no one looking for him: Antarctica, which is getting smaller by the second thanks to climate change so he probably wouldn’t be able to stay there long if he got there.

Oh isn’t the only one running from the Boov by the way. A young girl by the nickname of Tip, voiced by pop-music superstar Rihanna, is determined to find her mother Lucy, voiced by Jennifer Lopez, who was separated from her daughter when the Boov invaded and exiled mankind. By the time Oh and Tip join forces to try and halt the Gorg’s invitation to Earth, if they arrive, the Boov are screwed and the Earth will be reduced to dust, and find Tip’s mom, Home becomes a road-trip buddy comedy, spanning the continents in a modified four-door that uses extraterrestrial hover technology powered by slushy-drink and saving the world.

Photo by DreamWorks Animation

Oh and Tip are on the run but having fun in Home

In truth, Home is what I like to call, a baby-sitter picture. Parents can spend tens of dollars to take their children to see this movie to keep them entertained for a few hours while the parents can just tune out, digest the visually colorful yet thematically bland and simple picture and take them home when the credits start rolling.

With Home, audiences outside of this film’s target audience (children), can certainly notice that DreamWorks prefers a certain trend: the story of two outsiders who can make an impact on the world they inhabit. Dreamworks does this with their profitable pictures that they turn into franchises such as Shrek or How to Train Your Dragon. By using the characters of the clumsy extraterrestrial outcast-turned-fugitive, Oh, and the young girl questing to find her mother, Tip, they find a proverbial “Home” with each other in order to gratify themselves and find what they want.

Director Tim Johnson’s animated adventure will win over its target audience but it certainly won’t accomplish much more than that, sadly. I look back on Home and it was just a blur to me, there wasn’t much to get excited about and it isn’t a movie with a lot of room for discourse.

Photo by DreamWorks Animation

Rihanna’s character Tip draws some inspiration from her own background in Home

One of the shining qualities of Home though is the character of Tip. Not only is she the first main character of a different ethnic descent, like her voice actor Rihanna, Tip and her mother hail from Barbados, she could be described as a feminist character. She embarks on this quest with Oh for her own purpose, she wants to reunite with her mother who was taken from her and though they share common goals, the film tries to cater to her need in a major way even though Oh is the central figure of the story.

So far, I have yet to see a movie that has really made me go “wow!” Home is leaps and bounds better than every movie I have written about thus far, but I still have yet to see a movie that has really made me go “wow!” I don’t think I even laughed during the screening of this movie.

I felt sorry for the character of Oh, honestly. He was the black sheep of his species, every mistake he made is just another reason for his species to hate him, he runs from danger instead of towards it initially and Alfred Hitchcock said it best when he made his movie Secret Agent:

It’s hard to root for a hero when he doesn’t want to be a hero.

I had difficulty getting past the confusingly constructed characters such as the Boov and I just didn’t believe that Home would be a shining achievement from DreamWorks going in. Sadly, my beliefs were well-founded.

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