Friday, March 27, 2015


Alien occupation has never been so cute. Based on the children's book The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, Home begins with the invasion of Earth by an alien race known as the Boov who relocate the entire world's population to suburban-style camps while taking the rest of the planet for their own.

Oh (Jim Parsons) is a likable screw-up who finds himself on the run from his own people when he accidentally discloses the location of their new home to the alien race which has been pursuing the Boov across the galaxy. After encountering another fugitive in a human girl named Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (Rihanna) the two, along with Tip's cat Pig, are thrown together as Oh agrees to help Tip find her mother Lucy (Jennifer Lopez) while learning there's far more to the planet and its complicated people than the Boov's buffoonish leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin) believes. Despite the number of humans and Boov shown on screen, Home has a tiny cast list. Other than Oh and Smek the only Boov who gets any lines is traffic cop Kyle (Matt Jones), who Oh mistakenly believes is his best-friend and who is sent to track Oh down after his latest mistake.

Good animated features with female leads aren't easy to come by. Rihanna infuses Tip with heart and sass while Parsons falls naturally into a variation of the smart but often confused fish-of-water character he's been doing on The Big Bang Theory for the better part of a decade. The two carry the film which includes some nice flourishes such as one hell of a cute movie cat, Martin's over-the-top performance of an emperor with no brain, the odd speech patterns and the unintentional emotionally-controlled color-changing abilities of the Boov (think of them as living mood rings) which the script puts to good use.

At it's heart Home is a simple story about finding where you belong with a lesson about the consequences of taking something that doesn't belong to you that kids can learn with the Boov. Sure it's a bit schmaltzy, but it's heart is in the right place. And it's cute (despite a plot that's more than a little disturbing when you stop to think about it). There are few surprises, and at times the film's zaniness goes on a smidgen too long, but director Tim Johnson keeps the story moving at a nice pace while still leaving room for emotional moments between Oh and his new friends. Despite knowing where Oh's journey is taking him the ride proves to be quite enjoyable.

The animation and design, especially that of the Boov themselves and that lovable cat, is certainly a strength of the film. The 3D is mostly understated choosing to enhance existing scenes rather than for cheap gags adding another level to the film. You aren't likely to miss much viewing it in only two dimensions, but for those who enjoy 3D Home offers some of the most unobtrusive effects you're likely to find in an animated feature.

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