Posted March 20, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

Home Review


DreamWorks Animation’s latest feature Home is so endearingly animated that audiences are likely to be sugar-rushed by its colourful, bubble-filled cuteness. Home tells the story of Oh (Jim Parsons) as his alien species – the grammatically challenged Boov – invade Earth. Moving the Earthlings to designated areas in Australia which look more like Stepford than reservations, the Boov install themselves in their homes, getting rid of unwanted and useless objects like bicycles and loos by gathering them up in (yet more) huge, floating bubbles. Showing the invasion predominantly from the perspective of the invading aliens has an interesting effect; the sequence is funny, colourful and – as is the nature of the Boov – too cute to be threatening, which almost glosses over the fact that what is happening is the non-violent but nonetheless traumatic invasion and displacement of one species by another. As other colonisers before them, the Boov see nothing wrong with this; they are convinced that the inferior natives will benefit from Boov generosity, wisdom and friendship, even though none of them really know what friendship is. They live in a highly normed society in which pretty much everyone looks the same and mistakes and deviations are frowned upon. This causes trouble for Oh who isn’t quite your average Boov, even though he has not yet learned to second-guess the actions and decisions of his leaders either. This changes quickly when, by accidentally sending a party invite to the entire universe rather than just the Boov (“Who puts Send right next to Send All? Now that’s just a bad design!”), Oh draws the attention of the Boov’s greatest enemies, the Gorg. His mistake (just another in a string of the same) isn’t easily corrected either, because – shock, horror! – Oh has individualised his password so that the other Boov can’t access his account to intercept the email. Oh is declared Boov non-grata and forced to go on the run. Enter Tip (Rihanna) and her cat Pig, left behind during the invasion and now desperate to be reunited with Tip’s mother (Jennifer Lopez). Deciding to travel to Paris together to correct Oh’s mistake – type in the correct password to stop the email (beware caps lock!) – and find Tip’s mother, Tip and Oh form a reluctant alliance. The rest of the story is pretty obvious: on their journey, Tip and Oh become friends and the alien realises that perhaps the Boov aren’t superior to humans after all. However, its overt criticism of both historical and modern-day imperialism aside, the film’s overall message is much more standard: it’s all about family and friendship. Loneliness, Oh realises, makes people (and aliens) sad and angry, while reuniting them with their loves ones makes everything okay.

Home isn’t up to par with previous DreamWorks hits like How to Train Your Dragon or Shrek, but Tim Johnson’s well-timed directing turns it into a highly watchable family movie, despite a storyline that may be a little too predictable and formulaic for adults. The film would work better if the soundtrack wasn’t so annoying (Rihanna advised on it, so no surprises there) and Jim Parson’s voice-acting felt less strained, begging the question if Oh is supposed to channel Sheldon Cooper or if it’s simply impossible to shake the mental image associated with the voice. It doesn’t matter overmuch. The superior cuteness and sheer hilarity of the Boov, Home’s endearing set of characters and the truly lovely animation that works extremely well in 3D will probably suffice to distract viewers from the film’s shortcomings. Perhaps not the big hit that DreamWorks Animations is hoping for, it should at least reconcile audiences put off by the distinctly inferior Penguins of Madagascar.

Anne Korn