The Boov are a race of aliens on the run from their mortal enemy. They move from planet to planet trying to find the perfect hiding spot. Which obviously brings them to Earth. They relocate all the Humans to a single colony and take over the rest of the planet for themselves. But when the world is in trouble, one clumsy Boov on the run from his own people and one hidden Human looking for her mom have to band together to save everyone.

home-1This is a hard review to write. Home wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t very entertaining. The film was so bland it’s hard to find any thing to latch onto for comment. So please forgive this write-up for being as uninspiring as the film it’s based on.

The writers of Home actually had a mildly good idea for where their story should end up (probably because it was based on a book — but not having read the source material I can’t say for sure). The problem was they had a hard time reaching the conclusion. The first two-thirds of the movie felt aimless, despite the fact that the characters are literally on a trip to a specific place. In good road trip films, the journey is more important than the destination. Here, though, the journey felt more like a real life road trip: tiresome. I get that the two characters needed time to bond and the car ride gave the storytellers the device they needed to do it. It was just not done in the most engaging way. However, the plot picks up in the final third of the the movie when things finally get more interesting. Unfortunately by this point there isn’t enough time left to flesh things out and, after an hour of filling time we have to rush through the good stuff.

The humor is very hit-and-miss. There are some funny lines and there are some funny gags. But it is definitely not a laugh-a-minute script. For adults, the jokes are more of the small chuckle or eye-rolling variety. As for kids, the ones in the theatre where I saw the film didn’t seem bored, but weren’t falling out of their seats laughing either.

But putting aside the vanilla feel of most of the film, my biggest story gripe is with the dialogue of the main alien character, Oh. For those who haven’t seen the commercials, here are some examples of the way he talks: “I has made a few mistakes”, “My turn for driving”, “I has found our car”, “Can I come into the out now”, “You are just having to take away the piece of wood”, “Boov do not dancing”. It sounds like some kind of meme-inspired lolspeak, which can be annoying just to have to read, let alone actually hear someone speak for an entire movie. It doesn’t really make sense in the film since none of the other Boov speak this way. (Though it could have been made into a joke, by saying that the Boov learned our language by downloading the internet, or something like that!) The most likely culprit is someone who thought the kids would think it was cool to have him talk that way. Because there’s nothing kids like more than hearing adults try to speak their slang.

home-2Speaking of dialogue (ha!), I also wasn’t a fan of the voice acting choices. Jim Parsons is great on the Big Bang Theory, but here he sounded like just a weirder version of Sheldon. Rihanna has a beautiful and unique singing voice. But she doesn’t have the voice of a 14 year old. It was almost as jarring as hearing Harvey Fierstein voice Tiny Tim would be. Worse, the two of them didn’t work well together. We all know that most of the time in animation the actors aren’t actually doing their lines at the same time. But you can hardly ever tell usually. Here the disconnect was obvious and distracting. But Steve Martin, though maybe a tad too over the top, was great as Captain Smek.

The animation of Home was quite good, which should be a given by the major studios these days. It’s in the designs where the artists can really shine. Here there were some nice decisions made by the animators. The look of Tip, the Human lead, was distinctive, and a nice change from the DreamWorks norm. The Boov were mostly one-note, but the artists were able to stretch in the way the characters showed emotion and the way their bodies reacted to stimuli. The world was nicely filled in with details. And Boov technology was always some of the most interesting things on the screen. Young children will especially like all the different ways the animators use color.

While the soundtrack is mostly forgettable, there were several good pop songs features, though they work better outside the movie than in. But, as I seem to always be complaining about, is there no other way to end an animated movie than with all the characters breaking out into dance?

Home is the kind of movie you probably won’t remember the day after you see it. It’s a lackluster and innocuous affair you can put in front of kids for some harmless entertainment. At best, you’ll be like the nomadic Boov and ready to move onto something else when it’s over. At worst, you’ll be asking if you can has those ninety minutes back.

Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?

Fox, DreamWorks
March 27, 2015
94 minutes
Rated PG
directed by Tim Johnson