There has been no shortage of excitingly creative animated adventures in recent times. Animated movies increasingly rank among the best releases of the year and many of them find ways to simultaneously entertain both children and their parents. DreamWorks Animation’s latest venture Home, unfortunately, is not one of them.
A loose adaptation of Adam Rex’s 2007 children’s book The True Meaning of Smekday, the buddy comedy tells the story of Oh (voiced by The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons), a hapless, misfit alien who finds himself on Earth after his race, called the Boov, pick the planet as their new home. On the run from their enemy the Gorg, the aliens, led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin), invade Earth, relocate humans to a region they christen Happy Humanstown and proclaim the rest of the planet for themselves.
But a young Barbadian girl named Tip (Rihanna) gets left behind during the mass exodus of humans. Alone in a world now inhabited by colour-changing extraterrestrials, she sets out on a journey to find her mother (voiced by Jennifer Lopez). Along the way, Tip runs into Oh, who has inadvertently revealed the new location of the Boov to the Gorg, and is now a fugitive from his own race. Together, the two must help each other out of their respective predicaments, while learning lessons about acceptance and courage.
The main problem with Home is that it plays like a rehash of elements borrowed from better films, served as a cheesy, saccharine cocktail drenched in mind-numbing predictability. The plot itself is underdeveloped and at times nonsensical, and it also doesn’t help that the Boov in general aren’t very likable. The gags will only please youngsters, and its humour won’t even draw a chuckle from grownups.
The voice acting is also underwhelming. Steve Martin’s performance is fun, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the cast. As soon as you hear Oh’s voice, it’s hard not to think of Sheldon Cooper and imagine Jim Parsons standing in a studio, speaking his lines into a microphone. Rihanna’s delivery is mechanical, and both her and Lopez’s inclusion in the film have also resulted in their bland songs being unnecessarily shoehorned into the proceedings for no real reason. The musical filler is neither memorable, nor enjoyable.
It’s disappointing that a film, which supposedly aims to inspire us to take risks and value individuality, forgets to take its own advice. There is no magic in this animated fable. Only very young viewers won’t notice the clichés and predictability of this lacklustre movie, but they definitely deserve better. The bar has been set high for animated features, and thankfully, the audience has plenty of superior options they can enjoy instead.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 31st, 2015.