Home (2015)

HomeHaving been mercilessly hunted across the galaxy by the Gorg, the Boov claim Earth as their latest hidey-hole. Transplanting the natives to Humanstown, Captain Smek (Steve Martin) leads Oh (Jim Parsons), Kyle (Matt L Jones) and the rest of the Boov in their Moving Day celebrations. However, when Oh accidentally invites the entire universe to his flatwarming party, he is banished from the community as the elders attempt to intercept the message before it reaches the Gorg. On the run, Oh is cornered by Tip (Rihanna), a resentful but resourceful human girl who — along with her pet cat, Pig — was overlooked by the Boov transports. Tip is searching for her mother (Jennifer Lopez), and will only let Oh go free if he promises to help her find her first.

Adapted from Adam Rex’s 2007 children’s book ‘The True Meaning of Smekday’ and directed by Antz‘s Tim Johnson, Home was originally scheduled for release late last year, but was later supplanted with a more surefire hit better suited to the competitive holiday season — namely Penguins of Madagascar. Both were announced in 2013 as part of an elaborate and exciting twelve picture release schedule, one that would see the 2oth Century Fox distribute three films a year through to How To Train Your Dragon 3 in 2016, and which would reset the status quo to ensure more stand-alone films were produced than sequels or spin-offs; but the under-performance of Rise of the Guardians, Turbo and Mr Peabody & Sherman forced a large-scale reshuffle within the studio that resulted in a significantly reduced slate and the loss of hundreds of jobs. With the likes of B.O.O and Me and My Shadow being withdrawn back into development, Home was lucky to get a release at all.

Perhaps worryingly, then, Home is a somewhat middling affair, ranking higher than many of the studio’s original properties but well below the standard set by Madagascar 3 and How To Train Your Dragon 2. The first twenty minutes are almost laugh-free — an untenably turgid introduction to the Boov race that quickly establishes Oh as one of the most insufferable leading characters in an animated movie. Voiced with the utmost self-satisfaction by Parsons, and reduced to speaking in pervasive and poorly imitated broken English, Oh outstays his welcome almost immediately. “I too has to break pee” is a particularly irksome example of the character’s jarring diction, but there are many more to choose from. Given that Todd Wilderman directed an energetic and entertaining alternate introduction — distilling the Boov’s defining traits and Oh’s own quirks into an admirably efficient four minute sequence — to be attached to screenings of Mr Peabody & Sherman, it’s disappointing that the version that made it into the film itself is so unremarkable, uninspiring, and so likely unmemorable.

Thankfully, however, Home has other things going for it, not least the exceptionally high quality of the animation that has become the studio’s defining feature. DreamWorks, who last year upgraded their animation and lighting software, continue to push the envelope — the cute and superficially crude character designs belie a complexity and attention to detail that remains second to none. Oh may talk utter nonsense, but his face is so expressive that his gestures take on a life of their own; his mannerisms are not only coherent but completely captivating. The background detail is impressive too, one example being the Boov’s bubble technology that allows them to access any building and effectively dispose of any item deemed unnecessary — everything from umbrellas to toilet bowls. There is also a heartwarming theme of family and friendship, which doesn’t differentiate between terrestrial and extraterrestrial aliens. Ultimately, though, it’s Tip herself who stands out, even among the Annas and Eeps and Meridas of contemporary children’s cinema. The success of the character cannot be solely attributed to the animators either, regardless of how amazing their efforts might be; perhaps surprisingly — particularly if you’re familiar with her work on Battleship — Rihanna cuts a perfectly charismatic and compelling voice actor.

Home isn’t an easy film to like, let alone love, but for all of its flaws it at least has its own distinct personality. You could say that DreamWorks Animation have built what at first inspection appears to be an almost derelict house, but which over time becomes a gradually endearing home. You could. If only it weren’t a question of equity.

3-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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