Adapted from Adam Rex’s children’s book “The True Meaning Of Smekday”, DreamWorks Animation’s “Home” is a colourful comedy adventure with a surprisingly small cast and a big old sappy heart worn proudly on its sleeve.
When an alien race known as the Boov invade Earth, humanity finds itself relocated to the Australian outback in one of the most benign conquests ever. Captain Smek (Steve Martin), heroic leader of The Boov have chosen Earth believing the planet is a perfect hiding place from the Boov’s mortal enemy: The Gorg. But during the invasion, a young girl named Tip (Rihanna) is separated from her mother and teams up with a misfit Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons) on a crazy road trip to to save the planet and find her family.
A great deal of the comedy in “Home” is driven by Oh (and the Boov’s) comical misunderstandings and misinterpretation of humanity and the artefacts we’ve left behind. Oh’s wide-eyed and guileless glee is brought to life by Jim Parsons channelling the most hyper-wonderment aspects of his “Big Bang Theory” character, although at least in “Home” he’s allowed do develop a little bit of empathy and pathos without needing to immediately reinforce Sheldon’s cruel stereotype. While Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez are the other ‘name’ stars, they have relatively small roles in the story and it’s Rihanna that impresses as our heroine Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci. Her performance is warm, delightfully natural and cosily charismatic – a world away from her wooden delivery in “Battleship”.
Unfortunately, her starring turn lumbers the film with a drearily monotonous soundtrack of cookie-cutter R&B flavoured pop music. Where one of the funnier sequences popped and locked in the trailer to the cheekily misogynistic “Get Busy” by Sean Paul, the same scene plays out in the film to a distinctly less irresistible slower tempo Rihanna track. The actual story is pretty thin and predictable despite the global and intergalactic stakes and while the jokes are well crafted, the whole thing just feels a little bit fluffy and lightweight with nothing ever feeling risky or insurmountable.
Cutesy and sentimental, it gets by on the great visuals, Jim Parson’s Sheldon-esque schtick and Rihanna’s likeable heroine. Visually, it’s up there with the best but, as is frequently the case with DreamWorks Animation, the story needed something more to really kick it up a notch. It’s not quite the sharp satire it could have been and many of humanity’s foibles are left alone, with those few that are targeted played strictly for chuckles. Missed opportunities aside, it’s still a bright, wonderfully designed and animated treat. The trailers, which have been running for what seems like forever, had already made this The Mertmas’ number one anticipated film of 2015, eclipsing even the forthcoming Marvelpalooza of “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron” and he was not disappointed (well, he was a little bit by the music).