Home Movie ReviewDreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox
Rated PG for mild thematic elements.
Running time: 93 minutes.
One and a half stars out of four.

A few quick thoughts on “Home,” which I inadvertently have seen twice now in less than a week:

1. The first time I saw it was by myself at a screening; the second time was with my 5-year-old son at a matinee.

2. I liked it vaguely better the second time, just because taking Nicolas to the movies is so much fun.

3. Having said that, it still isn’t very good.

I mean, it’s fine. It’s pretty, with a palette of Easter-egg shades that’s wildly colorful and vibrant. The characters are lively and sporadically amusing. And the fact that its lead character is a strong and brave pre-teen girl — of color, no less — is no small feat.

But man, there is just not much here in terms of story. This is an especially glaring omission given that, over the past couple decades of animated films, we’ve come to expect cleverly detailed and complex narratives which work on multiple levels for every possible viewer. Some of them — such as “WALL-E” and “The Lego Movie” — actually are more effective for the adults in the audience than the children, I’d say. “Home,” however, is purely for kids.

Speaking of superior animated films, “Home” feels like a rip-off of 2002’s “Lilo & Stitch,” even though the source material is the 2007 children’s book “The True Meaning of Smekday” by Adam Rex. Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: A girl befriends a cutely goofy space alien who’s a fugitive being chased by his own kind. In the process, both learn the true meaning of friendship and family.

Heartwarming and harmless? Sure, why not. But it’s also numbing in its simplicity and often rather annoying. The primary culprit in this regard is Jim Parsons, the usually likable, multiple Emmy-winning star of “The Big Bang Theory.” Here, he lends his perky, guileless twang to the alien Oh, a member of the blob-like, multi-hued Boov race. The Boov are anti-social and hardworking, and their primary trait is fleeing in terror at the first sign of trouble. Their leader is the pompous and preening Smek (voiced by Steve Martin), who’s the best of all at running and hiding.

Oh, meanwhile, is an outlier. He is sunny and friendly. But his awkward attempts at connecting with others actually make him more of a pariah. This is especially true when the Boov invade their latest planet — Earth — in hopes of escaping the Gorg, monstrous creatures resembling refugees from a Gwar concert who are constantly chasing them. But it’s hard to blame his fellow Boov for blowing him off. Oh means well but he’s painfully ingratiating, and his method of speaking — a mix of mangled English and malapropisms — clangs on the ear from the start. (“My hands are in the air like I just do not care!” he declares when he discovers dancing.) He may call to mind the cuddly Om Nom from the “Cut the Rope” video game, but when he opens his mouth, out pops Jar Jar Binks.

Still, he finds an unlikely ally in seventh-grader Gratuity Tucci (Rihanna), whose friends call her Tip. Tip has been all alone ever since her mother, Lucy (Jennifer Lopez), was sucked up into a spaceship alongside the rest of the human race and sent off to live in Australia. But she’s managed to hide and survive with her pet cat, a calico named Pig. While the character’s resourcefulness is appealing, Rihanna’s delivery is pretty flat, and the inclusion of several of her songs on the soundtrack makes “Home” feel like an unwelcome infomercial for the pop superstar.

The two end up on the run together for reasons I won’t go into here. The bond they supposedly forge is the crucial thing, but it never feels terribly compelling in the film from director Tim Johnson (“Antz,” “Over the Hedge”), based on a script by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. Similarly, there’s never any sense of real tension in their shared adventure, despite the fact that the fate of Tip’s family — and the entire planet — are at stake. Everything is so darn peppy and glossy.

The most intriguing element of the whole movie reveals itself at the very end, when we find out who the Gorg actually are and what they’ve wanted all this time. I wouldn’t dream of giving the secret away. But I want to see a movie about them instead.

17 Comments on “Home

  1.  by  Trevor

    Christy, you are one of the few critics that I go to for film reviews, but I have to say I really disagree with you here. No, Home is not a groundbreaking animated film. But I found it totally charming and lively. I found TIp and Oh’s relationship to be be sincere. Unlike most buddy movies, it actually takes a while for these two to get along. And the Boov were cute and silly and funny, even if they are talking versions of the Minions. I thought the film had a great soundtrack and integrated it well in the film (I think that unless you knew that Tip was voiced by Rihanna, you wouldn’t find the songs that distracting; it might even give you a better apprecation for Rihanna’s spunky vocal performance) and the film had a unique, bold, and very beautiful visual style. Comparitively, Home does not stack up to the great films of Pixar or Disney, but I think it’s easiest one of Dreamworks’ better films in the past couple of years (with the exception of How to Train Your Dragon 2). Still, I respect your opinion and it was joy to read your opinon. The fact that you spent time to write about Home must mean something. And I hope your son enjoyed it as much as my little sister and I did.

  2.  by  Ben

    I have never been more frustrated by a movie in my life. Complete bubblegum, if this is indicative of society’s outlook of life, or even an acceptable alternative, human’s beings as a whole are screwed.

    The little girl has been separated from her mother, is finally in the same area, has a melt down when her phone battery dies, and curls up in a defeated stance. Really? That’s the effort that situation warrants?

    Humanity can be transported to cookie cutter homes, all of society is typical soccer mom variety, all supportive life systems are ignored. The only animal is a pet, and everyone is fine except this one mom who’s only concern is the separation from her daughter.

    This movie is absolutely horrible, I have never witnessed anything worse, truly a waste of time.

    •  by  Kevin

      “The little girl has been separated from her mother, is finally in the same area, has a melt down when her phone battery dies, and curls up in a defeated stance. Really? That’s the effort that situation warrants?”

      It’s a 12 year old girl who has been separated for days from her mother, going through all these obstacles trying to locate her, only to find it impossible when she finally is in the same area after she travels to the other half of the world. Everyone Tip asks doesn’t recognize her mother. So yeah, I think she’s allowed to have a pity party in this context.

      You, with your lack of empathy, are the real reason human beings are screwed.

    •  by  Joseph Fields

      @Ben “I have never been more frustrated by a movie in my life.”
      “I have never witnessed anything worse,”
      Your life must be more banal and bland than any humans person in forever. I think your review is a sad testimony to a someone with misplaced aggression issues from living such a sterile and boring life.

    •  by  Ezekiel

      I am an adult and my daughter is two years old. We both enjoyed this kids movie. I definitely did not think it was a hit the first time I saw it, but after watching it multiple times, I thought it was a really good movie. I disagree with Christy.

      We’re all entitled to our own opinions and if we all liked the same thing, life would be pretty boring.

  3.  by  Tyler

    Very well said review and you always have a good insight and the same perspective I do on movies; which I appreciate. That said I will definitively come read a review of yours next time prior to my girlfriend dragging me out to this drag of a movie ugh. I would like to mention though Jim Parsons’ role does make this movie bearable(at times) but Rihannas on the other hand was utterly bad. Just no real emotion or delivery at all. Just bad is all I can say. Very good kids movie though; quite vibrant and pretty colored.

  4.  by  matt

    I just want to know how old been is. if he is an adult I would question why an animated film got him so riled up. Some adults seem to think that all animated films are made towards them, and that in fact, is very sad.

  5.  by  Applesauce

    Christy try to see it in a kids point of view sometimes shows aren’t directed to adults there more faced to younger kids

  6.  by  Keith

    Thanks Christie,

    Because of your ridiculous review of this show, I am more than happy to take my kids to it. NOT ALL ANIMATED FILMS HAVE TO DEVOTE TIME TO ADULTS! I enjoy going to movies with my kids that are entirely devoted to the kid. There’s usually enough to keep me somewhat entertained but the most important part is enjoying the time with my kids and seeing them enjoy themselves. You and Ben ought to hook up!

  7.  by  Brianna

    Its animated, meaning most likely for kids. But I being a 16 year old, absolutely loved this movie. Just looking at the cover and the trailer I thought oh it looks stupid and for little kids. Not at all it was a very enjoyable humorfilled movie. I don’t know why they go to adults for movies like this. I would understand more if they had say younger people critic the younger movies, I’m not saying people 10 and under. More like the people who they think would enjoy it since you adults have clearly not. Then have the adults critic the adult movies such as rated R or PG-13, simple as that. Your reviews will never make any sense with kids animated movies because they are for KIDS, why go to a professional critic for a harmless kids movie. The review you input was invalid and needs to be reevaluated, try to think like a kid when it comes to reviewing these types of movies for a chance.

    •  by  Brianna

      Also it was a darn right cute movie, and very creative to have the Boov’s change color with emotions.

  8.  by  Raven

    This movie is for kids. My kid was very entertained when we watched it. Aliens do not need to kill people in this movie. This is not Transformers.

  9.  by  C

    All of you that have a negative comment are f-in morons. It’s a kids movie. It wasn’t made to entertain you. It was made for children. That you can sit in your chairs and think anybody cares about what you say is bullshit.

  10.  by  Andy

    I’m a 38 adult male and I absolute LOVE this movie! Very entertaining! Better than inside out even. Colorful, fun, and the soundtrack got me moving. My 1 year old son actually loves Captain Smek! It’s the first time he actually laughed out loud to a movie! Ever! He even danced to a couple songs, awesome! Maybe some people are put off because the leading character is a black girl, get over it people. And I’m pretty sure the only way to get people like Christy here to like animated family films like this is to put scenes with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams kissing in the rain. Wake up. Sorry to break it to you but IT’S A KIDS MOVIE! If you don’t like it then you’re too damn old and are no longer a kid at heart.

  11.  by  Monique

    I will admit the previews did not make me want to watch this movie. I wasn’t interested at all. With that being said I finally sat down and watched it since it was on Netflix ,and wow!!!! I love this movie. My kids love this movie. The only thing I didn’t like was Jennifer Lopez. I feel like they could’ve picked someone better for the part. They were supposed to be from Barbados, so while Rihanna sounded like it, Jennifer Lopez still sounded like Jenny from the block. Lol
    Other than that Love Love Love

    •  by  Christy Lemire

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Monique! Glad you had a better time than I did 🙂