Film experience is as comfortable as “Home”

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Although aliens and monsters are nothing new to animated kids’ movies, “Home” manages to stay original in its take on alien invasions. It avoids a simple good-versus-evil scenario, as the aliens are portrayed as refugees who come to Earth only out of necessity. Despite a rather generic soundtrack and a few unrelatable characters, “Home” is a well-made and thoughtful movie.

The film is about a loner named Oh (Jim Parsons), a member of the Boov: a small and squishy, cephalopod-like alien race that invades Earth and relocates every human to a crowded suburb in Australia. Oh finds himself as a fugitive when he accidentally broadcasts a party invitation to the universe, revealing Earth’s location to the Gorgs, an aggressive and seemingly unstoppable alien race that wants to destroy the Boov. Teaming up with a human girl, Tip (Rihanna), who’s searching for her abducted mother and driving a slushie-powered hovercar, he races against time to get to the Boov HQ in Paris to delete the invitation before it reaches the Gorgs.

Dreamworks Animation, which produced “Shrek” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” once again went all-out to create the visually stunning animated universe of “Home.” From an artistic perspective, the animation creatively incorporates circular and triangular shapes to make each scene pop out of the screen. For instance, all Boov technology utilizes big, round bubbles, while all Gorg technology is triangular and sharp. This contrast illuminates the struggle between a cowardly species that runs away versus an aggressive species that blows up planets.

As you can expect from an animated kids’ film, “Home” will leave you with a wholesome message. The film teaches us that sometimes, it’s only the weirdos that can bring real, meaningful change to the world. A few defining characteristics of the Boov is they run from danger, and never attempt any challenge without at least a 50 percent success rate. Oh, being the oddball that he is, plunges himself into real danger and goes against all odds to save the planet. Oh’s inquisitive nature, which is rare among the Boov, also leads him to team up with Tip, whom he couldn’t have succeeded without. The film teaches us that we should never be afraid to be different, because it means we can do things nobody else has the ability to do.

Although this was a very good film, one big annoyance was Tip’s character. Voiced by Rihanna herself, she looks to be about eight, but you find out she’s old enough to drive. The choice of voice casting wasn’t the best, and the character isn’t all that relatable. Although there are two main characters, Tip’s narrative is clearly overshadowed by that of Oh as far as viewer sympathy is concerned. There is something incredibly unmoving about Tip looking for her mother, possibly because Tip is not a very likable character in the first place. This probably also has to do with the fact that she is never in any real danger of not finding her mother, considering this is a kids’ movie.

While the film’s score may be enjoyable for Rihanna fans, I doubt anyone else will be in a hurry to buy the soundtrack. And I’m pretty certain there would be zero songs from Rihanna in the film if she didn’t lend her voice, which doesn’t even fit the character all that well. The soundtrack could have been generic and negligible, but instead it’s dotted with Rihanna songs that sound very out of place. What you get are uncomfortable scenes with alien dance parties with Rihanna’s music blasting in the background. This leaves the audience cringing at a scene that is supposed to be peppy and upbeat, but just ends up being embarrassing for everyone involved.

Although I was thrown off at what was a bit of an abrupt ending, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story play out, especially Oh’s narrative and the message he teaches. Even as someone who isn’t cultured in animated films, and hasn’t seen “Frozen,” I recommend seeing “Home,” even if it’s just to watch Oh.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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