Director: Tim Johnson
Cast: The voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Matt Jones, Jennifer Lopez
MPAA Rating: (for mild action and some rude humor)
Running Time: 1:34
Release Date: 3/27/15
Review by Mark Dujsik | March 26, 2015
There's good reason to feel almost instant sympathy with the Boov, the central alien species from Home. They are short and squat, wearing matching sweaters and, in a strange evolutionary tic, showing their emotions on their purple skin, which changes color depending on their mood. They literally turn yellow with fright—a state in which they often find themselves. They're cowardly little creatures who pack up their things and move from one planet to another whenever there's even the hint of any trouble. They have it down to a statistical science: If there's anything more than a 50 percent chance of a negative outcome to a situation, they turn tail and flee.
The "fight or" part is absent from their understanding of the natural response to danger. Flight is the only response they care to test. They know no other way to live, survive, and thrive.
It would be going too far to say that the Boov are loveable at their first introduction, but they certainly are likeable. We understand their desire for safety and self-preservation above all other matters, and the movie possesses a gentle sense of humor about their plight. There's nothing destructive, vicious, or violent about them. They don't put anyone else in danger in their quest for a stable, secure place to call home. Even when they take over Earth, they transport every human being on the planet to Australia to form a communal housing area that looks like a suburb that just happens to take up a sizeable portion of a continent (little boxes on the Outback).
The movie's prologue is a whirlwind of exposition and activity (the Boov's invasion of Earth, relocation of humanity, and migration into the planet's now-deserted cities). It's a frenzied sequence of informational narration and bright colors in motion that actually does a good job of tricking us for a bit, because it turns out that the Boov are neither loveable nor likeable. In fact, they're kind of annoying.
The Boov exhibit three distinct characteristics: They are spineless, not too bright, and speak in a form of pidgin English in which they omit articles, forgo subject-verb agreement, and swap "-ed" and "-ing" when forming participles (See, kids, learning grammar is useful beyond writing; it also helps in describing jokes in animated movies). These traits are supposed to be endearing, but after spending just a brief amount of time becoming accustomed to these cultural quirks, they're grating.
Our hero, by the way, is a member of the Boov who actually excels at bothering these bothersome creatures. We learn that the Boov customarily do not have names, but this one does. His name is Oh (voice of Jim Parsons), who earned his designation based on the sound of the exasperated groan that the other Boov emit whenever he walks into a room. This little detail is amusing at first, and then it becomes painfully honest, as his hijinks start to tempt us to say his name with the same sort of irritation as his peers.
Oh becomes a fugitive from the law after he accidentally sends an invite to his housewarming party across the known universe. It's only a matter of time before the email reaches the Gorg, the Boov's mortal enemy who destroyed a series of planets previously inhabited by the Boov.
While on the run, Oh meets Tip (voice of Rihanna), a 12-year-old girl who evaded the Boov's relocation process. Tip convinces Oh, who wants to abscond to Antarctica to avoid punishment, to take her to the Boov headquarters in Paris to find the location of her mother (voice of Jennifer Lopez), so they set out in a flying car.
Some of the little details—such as the bit with the creation of the flying car from parts of a frozen-beverage dispenser—are amusing, but it hardly matters when the backbone of Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember's screenplay (based on the children's book The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex) is a group of characters who bungle their way through even the most basic of tasks in increasingly forced and outlandish ways. The movie's ideas of such cutely incompetent behavior include Oh brushing his teeth with a toilet brush and eating the cleaning product out of public urinal before rinsing his mouth with some "lemonade" he finds in a certain type of bowl. There are the requisite sequences of hapless mayhem, too.
Apart from a touching discussion about family (set against a striking backdrop of a starry sky above a still Atlantic Ocean) and an extended climax that exploits a string of emotionally manipulative cliffhangers, Home offers only a few jokes and sets itself on repeat. This is a pandering exercise in low-rent humor.
Copyright © 2015 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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