MOVIE REVIEW: HOME / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: TIM JOHNSON / SCREENPLAY: TOM J. ASTLE, MATT EMBER / STARRING: JIM PARSONS, RIHANNA, STEVE MARTIN, JENNIFER LOPEZ / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 20TH
Big Bang theorists will get a kick out of hearing Sheldon voicing an alien invader, while kids will get a sugar rush off Rihanna songs and visuals that are positively bursting with bright colours in Dreamworks' latest animation, Home. Genetically engineered to be a success, Home feels designed to sell merchandise and Rihanna records to excitable children waiting not very patiently for the Minions movie to arrive.
The Boovs are a race of small purple aliens who spend their existence following their cowardly leader from planet to planet. The Boovs know only how to run away from danger and, as a superior race of aliens known as the Gorg keep coming to destroy them, the Boovs are forced to continually flee, each time finding a new home planet. When they set up shop on Earth, unpopular Boov Oh (Parsons) becomes public enemy number one amongst his species as he reveals the location of their new home to their sworn enemies. Forced to flee the Boov authorities, Oh teams up with feisty little girl Tip (Rihanna), who has lost her mother when the Boov invaded. Can Oh help Tip to find her mother, but more importantly can the pair overcome their differences to save the planet from annihilation?
The familiar nerdy vocal tones of The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons will thrill children as he makes Oh a loveable character, especially when compelled to involuntary break into dance to those nailed-in Rihanna singles. He may look like a purple minion, but with Parsons providing vocals Oh really comes to life as a surprisingly warm character. It's also a joy to see a character with the beautiful skin tone of Tip, spiritedly voiced by Rihanna, and the script sometimes subtly touches on ideas of acceptance and the difficulties of fitting in when moving to a new home.
What is less welcome is the frequent interruption of the singer's own songs on the soundtrack. It would have made more sense if Home was a musical and Tip burst into song with the voice of the pop sensation. As is, the songs often feel hammered home and you can almost hear Rihanna's record label rubbing their hands as they squeeze the songs in anywhere they can. At some points, rather than letting Rihanna do any of the emoting as Tip, the songs take over on the soundtrack, injecting a bit of much needed emotion into what could have been pretty stale proceedings.
Despite this cramming of singles onto the soundtrack, Home is also bursting with imagination and colour. The story is so swiftly set up to keep kids from fidgeting in their seats, that there isn't much time to dwell on the Boov's backstory. Neither is the takeover of Earth a particularly well thought-out or memorable set piece. Nevertheless, once Oh and Tip meet, the story starts to fizzle as Oh brings vitality and colour while Tip brings the sass. Transforming Tip's car into a colourful slushy spewing flying vehicle, the slapstick will no doubt impress children while the heart put into their mismatched buddy relationship will inevitably tug at the heartstrings.
Some of the running jokes are fun, with Steve Martin's fearful leader of the Boovs getting the most laughs while finding new uses for a range of ordinary Earth objects from tyres to vacuum cleaners. Jennifer Lopez barely gets a look in as Tip's mum, and the inclusion of Tip's cat will no doubt just help to sell a few more toys.
Still, it's Jim Parsons that really makes Home worth a visit. He brings real personality and warmth to what could have been an annoying and completely forgettable character. The animators also do their best to keep the Boovs kiddy friendly; both very odd in design but also huggable in their minion-like slapstick antics. With a story that takes in outer space, America, Paris and Australia, Home certainly never settles too long and will keep kids gripped throughout its snappy run time. Most surprisingly and satisfyingly, Home manages to sneak in a winning subtext about cultural imperialism. Just don't be surprised if the little tykes that watch it have been programmed to listen to even more of Rihanna's records on repeat on the way home from the cinema. On the bright side, it might be a welcome break from Let It Go.
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10
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