Home may be able to entertain some very young children... only
(Warning: This review may contain spoilers)
Based on a children's book and directed by animation specialist Tim Johnson (Over the Hedge, Antz), the story follows an alien race called Boov (which may sound like 'boob' in the movie) that are constantly looking for an ideal planet where they can live on and not be found by their enemies. As soon as they find Earth, they invade it and relocate all humans to one side of the planet thinking that they are benefiting them. The preceding short film titled Almost Home released last year showed a lot of promise, but unfortunately, it failed miserably to materialise into a full feature animation for all ages.
The film has quite a star-studded cast that may be attractive to adult audience. The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons voices Oh, an annoying Boov misfit who just can't help trying to make friends even though those actions keep causing him to make mistakes that could jeopardise his kind. While settling on Earth, he accidentally sends a party invitation to every alien in the galaxy which will enable their enemies to know their location (no idea why their enemies are in his mailing list in the first place). Parsons apparently sounds exactly like himself but his performance does bring a bit of life to his multi-expression role in an otherwise completely dull film. Also committed to his role is Emmy and Grammy winner Steve Martin (Bowfinger, Roxanne), who puts his natural comical talents to voice Boov leader Captain Smek, but his role is nothing more than a typical egoistic cowardice like Madagascar's King Julien.
In fugitive for his unforgivable mistake, Oh literally bumps into a human girl named Tip, who accidentally avoided the human relocation but got separated from his mother Lucy. Tip and Lucy are voiced by pop stars Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez respectively. Rihanna does a convincing job to sound like the younger girl with strong personality but Lopez's involvement is very limited. Due to the lazy development of characters and relationship, I wasn't engaged nor do I care whether or not Tip can find her mum. All the film does to show the daughter-mother relationship is through a brief video that Tip watches at the beginning. And what's worse is that it doesn't give the audience any impression that Tip might not be able to find her mum at the end. So whatever other flaws the plot has, this problem alone is enough to make me disregard all the attempted drama.
For convenience like in most films these days, the Boobs... I mean Boovs... speak English even to their own kind (but the other aliens speak their own alien language). To make the Boov characters sound less like a human, they speak in forcefully incorrect grammar, which can be annoying if kids catch on to this. Oh turns Tip's car into a Back to the Future-inspired flying vehicle, and in order to escape from his own kind that wants to exile him, he promises her that he'll help find her mum. So it suddenly becomes this familiar unwanted-misfit-finds-buddy kind of cartoon, like Despicable Me (2010), Up (2009), Lilo & Stitch (2002) and Toy Story (1995), but when creativity and charm are compared to any of these titles, Home falls very short. Heck, it can't even make the flying car scenes memorable. The most crucial failure of the film is the insincere bonding between Oh and Tip. The journey is too short and their interactions are too weak and casual for their friendship to be believable.
The film may be fast-paced, colourful, decently animated and the colour-changing design of the Boovs is smart, but there's just no fun for adult audience like myself. The simple humour is neither overly nonsensical nor too kiddish, which can be unfunny to both young and old audiences. The overuse of pop songs from Rihanna and Lopez certainly doesn't help generate any magic. The moral values aren't convincingly delivered. And just when I thought it can't get anymore cliched, the typical ending closes with the characters dancing in joy to a song that the film hopes to sell and the credits roll with the happy photos of characters living together. Perhaps more screen time for Tip's adorable fat cat Pig could've made the film a little bit more amusing.
Malaysia censorship: I think even Teletubbies had more chance of being censored than this.
To watch in 3D? I think that would make kids happier... only kids.
Second opinion: Although my girlfriend was touched by one scene, she also felt that the film is totally not for adults.
Verdict: Generic alien invasion-cum-buddy road trip comedy for children below 10.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Based on: Adam Rex's 2007 children's book "The True Meaning of Smekday"
Genre: Buddy comedy, family animation
Running Time: 94 minutes
Director: Tim Johnson
Screenwriters: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez
Malaysia Release Date: 26 March 2015
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: DreamWorks Animation
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