DreamWorks’ latest far from a ‘Home’ run



Directed by: Tim Johnson

Starring: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez

Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor

Grade: C+

Lately, intelligent animated flicks have spoiled us. Blockbusters “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6” came out to please children, as well as the parents they begged to take them there. But DreamWorks’ first movie of the year, “Home,” limits its appeal to the audience’s younger half with its broad screenplay and themes.

Home,” which is based on Adam Rex’s children’s book “The True Meaning of Smekday,” is a lighthearted meditation on alienation and finding where we belong. A highly intelligent alien race known as the Boov, led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin), has come to Earth with the purpose of finding a new home while evading an evil alien race — the Gorgs. The Boovs gently displace humans to a refugee camp in Australia to avoid the Gorg invasion. 

Oh (Jim Parsons), an oddball Boov who constantly makes mistakes, has done the unimaginable and sent an invitation to the Gorgs. Tip (Rihanna), a sassy, human teenage girl who is also a bit of an oddball, evades relocation, but becomes separated from her mother Lucy (Jennifer Lopez). Oh and Tip come together to find Tip’s mother and escape arrest by the Boov.

Both protagonists struggle with fitting in — Oh for being more fallible than other Boov and Tip for being a newcomer in a strange land. They find rare solace and acceptance in each other, bonding over their differences. It also introduces the idea of liberation as uniformity — the film sheds light on how advanced civilizations replace individuality with technology and equivalence and, in turn, lose empathy and compassion for each other. The Boov think that they are liberating humans by introducing new technology, but, instead, they are taking away the things that make us human.

For fans of “The Big Bang Theory,” Jim Parsons’ humorous and super smart alien is eerily similar to his character on the show, Sheldon Cooper. Alongside Parsons, Rihanna showcases her voice-acting talent, bringing splashes of personality to a relatable character.

In spite of the film’s strong voice performances, its themes and writing strive for broad appeal, lacking sophistication or originality. Although “Home” will provide a few laughs, it lacks tension and doesn’t stack up to the nuances and more daring concepts of other big animated titles such as “How to Train Your Dragon 2” or “Big Hero 6.” Unlike those recent hits, parents might find “Home” to be more generic and devoid of their intelligence.

“Home” strains to show that its themes of alienation and belonging are universal by stressing that even humans and aliens can get along. If only that universal appeal could extend across age lines.