Not Always Easy to go “Home”

by Joe Jarosz on March 27, 2015

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Swiss Fist]

I never realized how many children’s movies dealt with acceptance. Being someone who stands out is an important message to share with children. I grew up feeling different, and I’m glad I had movies like A Bug’s Life or Aladdin to help me realize that being different wasn’t a bad thing.

Home, directed by Tim Johnson for DreamWorks Animation, follows this formula, except the execution falls short. Adapted from Adam Rex’s novel The True Meaning of Smekday, the film follows a race of aliens known as the Boov. The Boov are known for running away from their problems, especially the evil Gorg, another alien race who follow the Boov from planet to planet. The film opens with the Boov’s leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin) choosing Earth as their next hiding spot from the Gorg. This isn’t a violent takeover. The humans get safely transported to Australia while the Boov take over their living quarters.

From there, we follow Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci (Rihanna) and Oh (Jim Parsons). Oh is an outsider. He’s a bumbling good-hearted Boov who accidentally alerts the Gorg the Boov are now on Earth. Tip accidently gets left behind in New York while her mother gets transported from home to Australia. Oh agrees to help Tip get to her mother if she helps him clean up his mistake.

For a little over 90 minutes, the audience follows those three characters. If we’re not getting a shenanigan-filled update from Captain Smek, we’re following Oh and Tip. I think the filmmakers knew they didn’t have the strongest story and dialogue to keep parents entertained, which is why they got Steve Martin to voice a character. Martin provided a few laughs riffing about things he found on Earth and being a proud runner from touble.

The Boov speak English, but not well. I felt as if I was watching an animated version of the Wild and Crazy Guys characters Martin and Dan Aykroyd created on Saturday Night Live. Why give them broken English? It didn’t make the jokes funnier, instead it came across as a lazy creative decision.

Rihanna’s work is welcoming. Flowing easily between vulnerable, tough, smart and funny, she supplies a strong sense of emotion for her first animated film. I was a little worried she wouldn’t be able to properly portray what is necessary for a good animated character after “Battleship,” but she shows that her first foray into films didn’t sink her career. The pop star pulls double duty, as well, by supplying the film’s soundtrack with several songs that fit nicely into the movie.

It’s weird to review a children’s movie because I know most kids don’t read reviews, but the movie is for them. The review is for the parent. Will a child enjoy this movie? Of course. It’s colorful, sweet and has plenty of moment’s that a child’s sense of humor will enjoy. The parents, on the other hand, may think to themselves they could’ve spent their time better. Other Dreamworks movies, like Shrek or How To Train Your Dragon, were created with a broader spectrum in mind. Home, is very child focused. It’s easy to imagine a parent getting bored, a feeling I felt often during the movie.

Joe Jarosz is a Midwest boy now living in California.

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