Thursday, April 09, 2015

Home / ** (PG)

Featuring the voices of:
Oh: Jim Parsons
Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci: Rihanna
Captain Smek: Steve Martin
Lucy: Jennifer Lopez
Kyle: Matt Jones

DreamWorks Animation presents a film directed by Tim Johnson. Written by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. Based on the book “The True Meaning of Smekday” by Adam Rex. Running time: 94 min. Rated PG (for mild action and some rude humor).

“Home” is a perfectly entertaining movie for children of a certain age. It lacks—as more and more CGI animation efforts do these days—that vigor to press the animation boundaries once shattered by Pixar. I suppose DreamWorks Animation has always been the poor man’s Pixar, but its ambition seems to falter more with every successive effort. “Home” is just the most recent in the diminishing vibrancy of family centric CGI animation.

We are introduced to an alien culture of the race called the Boov. The greatest talent of the Boovs is their ability to run away. Whenever their planet is attacked by another alien race they run away and take over another race’s planet. They don’t do this by destroying the other race, but rather by relocating them into other regions of the planet. Oh is a Boov that is hated by all other Boovs because he is different. He’s named “Oh” because that’s what every Boov says in exasperation whenever he appears. He’s quite a klutz, and he just doesn’t fit into the Boovs’ orderly culture. Their leader, Captain Smek, is revered for the great skill he showed running away during an important truce negotiation with a warrior alien race. Smek doesn’t really seem to fit into the orderly culture of the Boovs either, which makes me question just what the other Boovs see in their esteemed leader.

Anyway, the Boovs’ latest target is Earth, to absolutely no audience member’s surprise. They invade and begin a swift relocation process, placing all of Earth’s inhabitants in Antarctica? Or is it Australia? I can’t really remember because I was caught up in the logistics of it all, while the filmmakers didn’t seem to worry their pretty little heads about it. They are met with surprisingly little resistance, but apparently one little girl is the only person on the planet to evade capture. She’s ridiculously named Gratuity Tucci for a reason that only seems to be for the purpose of allowing her friends to call her “Tip.” Tip’s companion is her cat—also ridiculously named “Pig” because what cat is named Pig? Only one with a short curly tail, of course.

Meanwhile, Oh accidentally sends an e-vite for his house warming party to the very alien race the Boov are trying to escape. So, Oh is now a fugitive from Boov justice, which seems just about as random as everything else in Boov culture. Most Boov are like sheep, but their leader is a goofball who does very strange things for the sake of having someone do very strange things for laughs. There are some very intelligent Boovs who have their intelligence sucked from them by machines, but when they offer ideas on their own, they’re pretty silly. Everyone acts as a herd except for those who are required to act individually by the screenplay.

It is also unsurprising that Oh and Tip are forced to team up so Oh can escape justice and Tip can find her mother. The screenplay spends oodles of time displaying the difference between humans and Boov in the different ways Oh and Tip react to their precarious situation. Oh doesn’t understand any of Tip’s feelings for her family and Tip quickly discerns the emotions that coincide with all the different colors Oh’s skin turns. The screenwriters also try to cull as much comedy as they can in repurposing human technology for Boov use, as when Oh turns Tip’s car into a flying machine using a Slushy maker.

Like I said, for children of a certain age this will all be fun and magic. Anyone over the age of ten might find it a bore. Parents will be forced to squirm through much of the formula and teens are likely to find the whole thing to be kids stuff. I wish I could say you’ll enjoy it as much as your younger children will, but you’re going to have to rely on the expressions on their faces for the only joy you will find in it as a parent. “Home” is utterly harmless and utterly unnecessary except as something to take your kids to until something better comes along.

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