Movie Review: Home
By Alex Yarde
Rated PG, 94 minutes

“There are many, many places like HOME.” HOME is a very well crafted, if formulaic DreamWorks production.

Despite a thin script, Rihanna, J-Lo & Jim Parsons make Alex Yarde feel right at HOME 

The highlights were a surprisingly, affectionately spunky and G rated Rihanna. Women and girls of color are slowly coming out of the background as “sassy” best friends and are increasingly well fleshed out main characters in animated films recently and Rhianna continues that positive trend. Her Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is the perfect mix of toughness & sensitivity that sells her character.

 

The other lead Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) was born to play the vapid, self-interested, nebbish alien overlord with a heart and named by his fellow aliens “Oh” as in “Oh no here comes that loser!” Parsons charming naïveté is paired with a Yoda-like backward cadence. Oh belongs to an alien race known as the “Boov” day-glo, chameleon like color changing, extremely cowardly (and marketable) squishy toy space refugees, who use their advanced but adorable bubble based technology to invade & relocate the local populaces of different worlds staying one step ahead of the malevolent Gorg.

The stalwart Boov Captain Smeck (a pitch perfect Steve Martin) is a brilliant “Anti-Kirk” as he reminds everyone who will listen that he’s “The best at running away!” with appropriate swagger. The plot of HOME is as paper-thin as the hilarious one page pamphlets provided to each cute alien squeeze toy before disembarking to Earth, floating bubble luggage in tow.

During what has to be the most benign invasion of earth ever shown on screen, Tip and her mom Lucy (a serviceable Jennifer Lopez) are separated when the Boovians temporarily shut off earths gravity, Roomba the populace into huge vacuum ships (Tip is saved by her rotund Calico Cat named Pig sitting on her head…no seriously) then deposit them within the confines of hastily constructed idyllic Disneyland like theme park refugee camps with unlimited bovine frozen confections, (because Ice Cream makes mass abduction and imprisonment ok?) The Boov then take up residence within the newly vacated major cities.

At the risk of being Debbie Downer for a minute this premise struck me as a shockingly myopic view of displaced populations and might be worth a longer conversation about the life of real refugees, but it’s a DreamWorks kids movie so let’s move on. Oh, in a lonely, desperate bid for friendship within a race of selfish a-holes preoccupied with their hand held devices (sound familiar?) and no concept of family, plans a “warming of house” party for his self centered compatriots. He mistakenly hits the “send all” button (who hasn’t done this?) and spills the beans on the Boovs new location via galactic E-Vite to their malevolent, relentless, pursuers aboard the Gorg Mother ship.

HOME then shifts gears into a road movie well, more like a sky movie. Oh hilariously pimps out Tip’s Smart Car for the transatlantic trip at a local abandoned convenience store. I now long for a flying car that runs on slushies and fires scalding hot “Burrito Torpedoes” and Nacho chaff! Oh and Tip hit the Big Blue, bond and go in search of mom Lopez. This is where the 3D shines. HOMEs’ 3D is very well done and I would recommend it if you are going to see HOME, it’s worth springing for the upgrade. With it’s broad toilet humor and the aliens Conehead level of ineptness (Google it) It’s clearly geared for the youngest moviegoers. If you don’t see the big reveal at the end coming a light year away, ask a Trekker,

SPOILER ALERT:

The bad guys aren’t really all that bad just misunderstood.

HOME filmmakers Director Tim Johnson (Antz) kept things light and moving and writers Tom J.Astle & Matt Ember (Epic) lifted the antagonist straight from Star Trek TOS “Devil in the Dark” episode. They also squandered major emotional third act impact but sadly in Crood-like fashion, backed off and played it safe. In the end all is forgiven, former enemies, occupiers and occupied have a huge intergalactic dance party on the earth, moon and beyond. Yawn.

Rihanna’s tunes are very catchy, (currently my hands are in the air like I just do not care.) I personally enjoyed small nods to RiRi and her characters shared roots in Barbados and Tip’s recent relocation to the U.S. feels slightly biographical. I’m a first generation American citizen and son of Barbadian parents so Tip’s cultural learning curve and alienation are familiar to me. When Tip, explaining to Oh her inability to fit in at school says, “I was just this nerd from Barbados,” I nodded my head. Growing up my relatives, even the ones born in the U.S. referred to any trip to Barbados as “Going Home” and I wondered if that had anything to do with the films title?

Rihanna is hawking an album and DreamWorks must be selling tons of happy meals featuring day glo squishy Boovians but I think despite its cliché story, if you have very young children, and you appreciate animated films featuring positive females of color in lead roles HOME, is not without its appeal and I recommend it.

Follow Alex Yarde on twitter, here!