Directed by Tim Johnson. Produced by Chris Jenkins and Suzanne Buirgy. Screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. Release date: March 27, 2015.
Home is the type of movie you get when you take a singular theme – in this case, the importance of family – and decide to create an entire children’s movie around making sure the kiddies understand just how darn important it is. Based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday, Home starts with a very interesting premise, and then proceeds to waste it by doing nothing of importance for most of its running time. It functions much like a road movie, but without the important character-building stops along the way.
That premise sees an alien race called Boovs invading Earth in order to hide out from the evil Gorgs. They put humans in a utopic – if you’re a child – society in Australia and take the rest of the planet for themselves. Oh (voice of The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons) is a Boov who doesn’t fit in with the others. Why? Because the movie said so, that’s why! It’s irrelevant, anyway. He’s The Special of his race, so when he makes a mistake where he accidentally invites the Gorgs to Earth for a party, he’s declared an outlaw. While on the run, he meets Gratuity “Tip” Tucci (voice of Rihanna), who is named that way because creativity is dead. She managed to avoid relocation, but misses her mother. Tip is a young teenager but sounds and acts like she’s about 25. One has to guess Rihanna was cast simply so that she’d have incentive to provide half of the soundtrack.
Both of these characters are on their own, and since Oh is a Boov, he can help Tip find her mother. So, they team up. Most of the movie is spent getting to Paris, where not only can a magical supercomputer find Tip’s mother, but Oh can also fix his mistake by stopping the email from making it to the other end of the galaxy. It takes hours for mail to travel, you see, but if you hit “stop,” even if it’s a second away from reaching the other side, it’ll work instantly. Sorry, I’m thinking too hard about Home, which is to say that I’m thinking about Home at all.
It’s all done so that Tip can tell us how important family is, so Oh can learn how important family is, and for the film to tell the children of the audience that they should love their parents forever and ever. Worse messages can be relayed, but when the film is so single-minded that this is all that can be reaped from it, anyone over the age of 10 – and that’s being generous – isn’t going to get a whole lot from it.
It’s not going to appeal much to those over the age of ten, and parents dragged along to see it aren’t going to get anything of value.
The problem for anyone over that age is that there’s nothing else to Home. The characters are flat, boring, and/or annoying, the plot is as basic as they come – and one late-game plot twist is so predictable that it really shouldn’t have even been bothered with, except that it even further hammers home the “family” theme. Many of the payoffs are anticlimactic, the animation isn’t anything special, and the voice work is more often than not inconsequential. Parsons and Rihanna sound like themselves and Parsons’ character doesn’t understand human ways and therefore takes things way too literally, which will just remind a lot of people of his character in The Big Bang Theory. That’s a distraction for some and an annoyance for others.
What likely would have been more interesting would have been the focus on the Boovs’ “benevolent” invasion of Earth. How the relocated/imprisoned humans react. Would we have a District 9 sort of situation here? We see a little bit of protest from the humans after they’re moved, but not much more. The focus is too narrow and square on Oh and Tip to make note of any of the larger consequences. It’s a kid’s movie, so I understand why, but it’s not wrong to hope for a better movie, especially when that premise is so ripe with potential.
It would be easier to like Home if it was funny, but I snickered maybe once throughout its 94-minute running time. The jokes are just bad, and they’re not helped by the leading voice actors. Jim Parsons is Sheldon Cooper as Oh, and Rihanna is Rihanna as Tip. It’s impossible to think of these characters as themselves. The writing doesn’t help, the visual gags don’t work, and it’s just so unfunny from start to finish.
To be fair to Home, there’s one sequence in Paris that lasts about five minutes and is quite enjoyable. It’s a chase scene, involves a now-floating Eiffel Tower being slowly flipped on its head, and it’s the first time when the film elevates its heart rate beyond resting. There’s some creativity here, too, and for the first and only time the stakes actually seemed to be raised. So much of Home is focused on the two leading characters just talking about either how Boovs don’t understand humans or how important family is.
There are children’s movies and there are family movies, and Home falls quite comfortably into the former category. It’s not going to appeal much to those over the age of ten, and parents dragged along to see it aren’t going to get anything of value. It preaches how important family is, which isn’t a bad message, but that’s all it has on its mind. Parents should practice what it preaches and do something more involving with their children; that’ll teach them the lesson with more impact than Home will.
Bottom Line: Very young children will like its color and how it tells them to love their parents, but it’ll make anyone older than that roll their eyes.
Recommendation: Rent Lilo & Stitch or do something more meaningful and personally interactive with your child instead of taking them to Home.[rating=1.5]