Director: Tim Johnson
Screenplay By: Tom J Astle and Matt Ember
Release Date: March 27, 2015
Run Time: 94 Minuets
There are two distinct types of family-friendly movies: “Children’s movies” (like “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, were the child enjoys the film while the parents suffer through bad joke after bad joke) and “family movies” (like “Paranorman”, were there is just as much for the adults to enjoy as there is for the kids). I would say that Dreamwork’s new movie “Home” is very much a “children’s movie” but it is the best kind of children’s movie. See, the main issue with most “childrens movies” is that the jokes are bad, written by writers who think “they’re kids, they wont know so why should I try so hard?”. The main issue with “Home” (as far as the writing goes) is that the jokes are more obvious. You can probably get the gist of most of the films jokes by simply looking at the premise: aliens with no understanding of human cultures come to take over our planet. I can almost guarantee you that the jokes you thought up right after reading that not only make it into the movie, but are repeated ad nauseam. Luckily for movie-goers, this didn’t stop most of the jokes from being well executed. While I may have gotten use to the whole “aliens use human technology wrong” shtick by the end of the film, I was laughing regularly throughout the film.
But what are jokes with out a good story, huh?
“Home” is about a nomadic alien race, called the Boov, who have cultivated a culture of running a way from danger and looking for a newer, safer home. As the film opens (an I mean that, right as the film opens) They have found earth and easily relocate almost all humans to one spot in Australia while keeping the rest of the planet for themselves. While you may think this is gearing up to have some major themes about colonialism don’t get your hopes up. While there are a few nod in that direction, not much comes from it. Anyway…The Boov missed one little girl, named Tip (Rihanna) who is looking for her mom who was taken during the invasion. Tip soon finds herself stuck with one of the Boov, a young outcast named “Oh” (Jim Parsons), and together they start looking for Tip’s mother while trying to avoid the rest of the Boov hive-mind. While saying much more might push this review into spoiler territory, let me just say this: the film goes where you think it’s going to go and goes through the paces you expect a film like this to go through. But, the film does this all so well that I found it hard to care about how unoriginal the overall story was.
This is mostly due to the two stellar performances of the films two leads. Say what you want about Rihanna’s music (like…i don’t know…it’s not very good and over used in the film) you cannot deny the fact that she sells the hell out of her role. I’m may never be a fan of her as a musician but if I heard that she was going to start doing voice over work full time i’d definitely be excited to see more from her again. Part of what makes her performance so good is how she makes certain transitions with out feeling out of character, witch would have been hard with a lesser voice actor. For example, in the beginning of the film Tip is your average “though girl”, sad that her mother’s gone and hostile towards those who took her, including Oh. While it could have been easy to just make Tip another male coded female hero (like Katniss Everdeen or Sarah Connor), they didn’t go that rout. At one point Tip uses her “girly” makeup skills to hide Oh in plain sight. In the hands of a lesser actor this could have felt really out of character for Tip, Rihanna sells both of these sides to the character, showing that Tip may be “just a girl”, but that doesn’t have to mean she’s one dimensional.
And if you’re like me, you may want to punch Sheldon Cooper in the face (as well as everyone else in and involved in making “The Big Bang Theory”), I still have to say that Jim Parsons did great here basically by playing the same character. The difference? Honestly I’d have to say a lot of it has to do with Oh not being connected to one of the worst shows in history, but maybe that’s enough.
If there is one irredeemable flaw with the film it’s the pace in the first half. Once Tip and Oh solidify their friendship the pace slows down a bit, but up until that point (witching about the mid point of the film) it seems like the team from Dreamworks was trying to get the “boring” stuff out of the way as quickly as possible, and personally I think that hurts the film a lot. I don’t know what it’s going to take to do it, but we really need film makers to stop thinking children wont sit though a movie if its longer than 90 minuets.
Ultimately “Home” was a lot of fun and i’m sure you’ll enjoy it. With a major theme of learning to face your problems instead of running away from them, it even has a pretty decent message to teach kids if you care about that kind of thing. This is a win folks. It a win for Dreamworks, it’s a win for diversity and representation in media for both women and people of color, and it’s a win for those of you who are going to go see it.