Home was Innocuous and Not Quite Clever Enough
Directed by: Tim Johnson
Written by: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Based on: The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, Matt L. Jones
Starring: Rihanna, Jim Parsons, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin
Running time: 94 minutes
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Home is a relatively innocuous children’s film, I mean that to sound dismissive. I did not hate this film, but I did not love it. Personally, I am ambivalent, although I can imagine developing some very strong opinions once it hits Netflix and is played by my children more than twice. I should also mention that my children loved this movie, they found parts hilarious, and other parts endearing. Two days later, they forgot they ever saw it. It had an infinite amount of potential left untapped by the screenwriters and director. The result is a lot of cheap laughs, and some transparent narrative. The bad parts of this film will outweigh the good for some audience members, and the good parts will outweigh the bad for others. A big bunch of parents may find themselves in the middle, sitting through this film, being grateful that it was not as bad as it could have been. As a disclaimer to parents, this film does contain phrases and speech patterns that if picked up by a child and repeated, may prove to be extremely irritating.
When Earth is taken over by the overly confident Boov, an alien race led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin) in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated while all Boov get busy reorganizing the planet. But when one resourceful girl, Tip (Rihanna), manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a fugitive Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons) who accidentally invited the Boov’s deadly enemy to his house warming party. The two fugitives realize there is a lot more at stake than intergalactic relations as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime.
Home is far below what I have come to expect from DreamWorks Animation. I would definitely count it as one of the most mediocre of their films. There were two primary annoyances for me, the soundtrack and Oh’s speech pattern. The soundtrack was annoying because it was almost entirely Rihanna, who recorded an entire album for the film. This is going to be great for fan of Rihanna, but for anyone else, it is an overabundance. I don’t think I would have minded but they had one of her songs paying prominently every five or ten minutes, it was too much and it started to distract from the story, such as it was. I would file this under a minor annoyance that would have kept me from enjoying a film. The speech patter of Oh, however, is a major annoyance, that made me want to stop watching. It is a little difficult to describe. The syntax was inconsistent, and randomly Oh would use verbs and conjunctions incorrectly, or eliminate them entirely. This was a quark of his character that was not shared with the other Boov. It started being cute, for lack of a better word, but quickly lost appeal to the point I wanted to ignore the main character’s dialogue. There were hosts of other issues with the basic premise of the film. The Boov are clearly a more technologically advanced race; however, they constantly demonstrate extremely poor reasoning, and even difficulty with their own technology. Something about it didn’t logically work.
That is enough of my being critical of a children’s film. As far as redeeming qualities, this film is visually fun. The animation is exactly what I have come to expect from DreamWorks, along with the character design. I am extremely pleased the man human character is not only female, but also Barbadian from a single parent family. These attributes were not in the forefront of Tip’s narrative, it was beyond refreshing. The relationship between Tip and Oh was complex and dynamic, and a good portion of time they were at odds with each other. Finally, the film actually had a substantive moral for children. Most films for children do have some type of message, a lesson they can take home. This one almost redeemed the film of all its flaws, almost. Overall, it is good for kids, they will love it, parents, you might have to be strong and endure this one.