I certainly did not have much faith going into "Home" tonight. I mean the last few years of DreamWorks Animation output (other than "How To Train Your Dragon 2") has been pretty low-budget, according to me. I thought Pixar would rule all for many years to come. I was not a fan of the marketing for "Home." None of the trailers drew me to the movie, which is never a good sign. I was drawn to any of the voice actors. I am one of the very few people on planet Earth who hates "The Big Bang Theory" and I find Jim Parsons in particular to be quite annoying, so a movie with his voice as the lead was scary to me. I am also not fond Jennifer Lopez and was not ready for another singer-turned-voice actor in Rihanna. All "Home" looked like to me was too many red flags.
So I am a little surprised to be reporting that "Home" is actually pretty good. It didn't blow my socks off, it certainly is not "How To Train Your Dragon 2" great, but it has the charms. The screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember give each voice actor a lot of wiggle room and plenty of moments to shine. That is exactly what they do, they shine. The direction by Tim Johnson is spot-on and he creates a world that is colorful yet believable at the same time. This is not just another DreamWorks movie where the kids will be in heaven while the parents are bored. There is a lot more to "Home" than just cute fluff.
The story revolves around an evil alien race known as the Gorg who are hunting another alien race called the Boov. The Boov are frantically trying to find a different planet which can sustain all of them and keep them safe. They find a safe haven in Earth. They begin a "friendly invasion" as the Boov begin to move humans to other parts of the Earth so that the Boov can live in their stead. One of these Boov's who finds a new home is Oh (voiced by Parsons) who seems to be overly-excited to be living on Earth. He is so excited that he sends invitations to a welcoming party at his new apartment, the problem is he sends invitations to every alien race in the universe, including the Gorg. Now the Gorg know where the Boov are and this turns Oh into a fugitive. On the run, Oh runs into Tip (voiced by Rihanna) who is down in the dumps because she was separated from her mother, Lucy (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) during the invasion. Oh and Tip make a pact to help each other, Oh is going to clear his name then help Tip find her mom.
Like I said, I was no fan of Jim Parsons leading up to this movie. Based on the trailers, I thought Oh was just going to be a much more kid-friendly, but just as annoying version of Jar Jar Binks. However, Oh is written just right as a character, he spends all of the movie walking on the rope between funny and annoying, but I liked every moment of it. The character never becomes too cheesy, and never becomes too much for the mature people in the audience. I think Parsons does good voice work here, and his somewhat nerdy voice helps the character, instead of hurting it. I love it when a movie can make me see somebody in a completely different light, and I am happy to say that happened here.
I also liked the voice work by Rihanna here. Yes, the movie is filled with Rihanna songs and it seems at times that the movie is selling out a little bit, but it didn't really bother me. I think Rihanna did great voice work here and I'd love to see how her future in film turns out. Jennifer Lopez' character is an important presence in the movie, but not an overwhelming one, so I really never had the time to really get a headache from her involvement. I will say that the moments she has in this movie really are not bad and she really has no room to derail the movie, which is a good thing. Even Steve Martin shows up as Captain Smeck, who is the leader of the Boov race and who leads the charge to find Oh when he becomes a fugitive. Martin has some of the best material in the movie, and you can tell Marin relished every moment of it, very good work being done here.
It's actually kind of amazing that "Home" kind of refers to two different meanings and you may not catch that in the advertising for the movie. Which is another reason why I believe DreamWorks likes to make people think the movies they are selling are going to be garbage, but end up being more every once in awhile. Just as Oh is settling into his new "home," Tip is trying very hard to find her mother, and it seems that wherever her mother is, that's home for her. As Oh becomes a fugitive, he tries very hard to clear his name, because not only does he want to protect himself, but he wants to fight for the newfound land that he has been given. Its amazing to me how a cute kids movie actually has a parallel meaning in its storyline, I found it to be very clever.
"Home" does follow some of the usual kids movie beats that have become cliché over the last few years, but I really did not care. I loved the film's goofy animation, and I was absorbed enough by the storyline to care. I was surprised how well the cast did with this movie and I am glad it was not a total embarrassment. If you have children, definitely take them to see this, they will have a blast (if they somehow have not seen this already). I also think the adults will be surprised just how charming this one is as well.
FINAL GRADE: B