Wednesday, April 1, 2015

'Home' review

Dreamworks Animation may have rebounded financially with Home (it pulled in over $50 million last weekend), but that doesn't mean that Home is a good movie. They've been on a cold spell since Summer 2012, releasing films like The Croods and How To Train Your Dragon 2 that couldn't match up to their previous hits. Home is a new low for Dreamworks- an excruciating, borderline painful experience that features some of the most asinine humor I've seen in a kids movie recently. Jim Parson, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez can't do anything to make their characters even remotely interesting, and in most cases, they're simply absurdly annoying. Home is colorful, bright and fun to look at, but there's just nothing beneath the surface.

Home is the story of an alien race known as the Boov, a bunch of purple, Minion-esque things who are basically a group of cowards who follow everything that their leader, Captain Smek (Steve Martin), tells them to do. Oh (Jim Parsons) is exactly like that, except that he has a tendency to make really stupid mistakes and annoy people. The Boov have taken over Earth as their new home to hide from the Gorg, a frightening monster race that is chasing them across the galaxy. Smek places all of the humans in fun camps in Australia. However, Oh screws up and accidentally invites the Gorg to his house.

Oh becomes a fugitive from the Boov before teaming up with Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (Rihanna), a young girl who is on a passionate search for her mom (Jennifer Lopez). Oh and Tip become friends over time as they travel across the planet in an epic search, all set to hit songs by Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez. Yippee.

Home has moments of inspiration. It really does. There were a few points towards the end where I thought that the film was effective and I did like the musical choices in some places. But at other times, I felt like the music was shoehorned in due to contractual obligations (this probably did happen, let's be honest) and that the movie was simply way too mediocre. For kids, this movie has more moments that they'll probably enjoy, but I'd say that the max age for this flick is 8. Anybody older than that will be bored out of their minds.

For a movie with only five or six principal characters, Home was always going to live and die by its voice cast. And unfortunately, that's where it fails miserably. Jim Parsons is great at being Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory and it was perfect casting to have him play Oh in this movie. However, the filmmakers took Sheldon's annoying factor and multiplied it by 100. Oh is one of the most grating and frustrating characters in recent animated movie history and within five minutes, I just wanted him to shut up.

Oh's main joke is that he speaks English weirdly. Seriously, that's his main character trait. He'll say things like "I am much excitement!" or "Can I come into the out now?" and I guess it's supposed to be funny. That feels like the intent, but it just fails miserably. He's able to build a flying car in a minute so why can't he learn how to say something without making it sound stupid?

Rihanna, J-Lo and Steve Martin are the other principle cast members. Martin does a good job, but his character doesn't have much to do but be a coward and spout off juvenile humor. He's the bully and there's not much depth beyond that. Rihanna and J-Lo are both serviceable (although Rihanna feels awfully miscast at times), but the fact that the movie, from start to finish, is packed with hit songs from the two artists really irked me.

The music is occasionally inspired, but when Rihanna's "(Only) Girl In the World" comes on during the middle of a scene, it just takes you out of the movie. I think that both artists have had their moments and I don't dislike either one of them, but their presence and the presence of their greatest hits albums made Home feel like a giant product placement ad.

The plot is also just an up-and-down ride of emotions and story devices that I just didn't care about. The story is all relatively predictable and although the film became slightly more interesting towards its conclusion, everything was ruined by a last minute twist that just felt forced and unnecessary. As I was writing this summary, I pretty much realized that the film's plot pretty much mirrors the far superior LEGO Movie. It's literally the same setup and it's rather funny actually.

In the end, there's not much more to say about Home beyond that it's a boring, unfunny mess of a film that fails due to the characters, plot and comedy aspects. The film is beautiful to look at, but that's truly it. Home has resurrected the studio's monetary future, but they're currently on a quality drought worse than anything that Pixar has experienced so far.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D                                              (4.2/10)

Image Credits: Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Movie Pilot, Atlantic Station, Fandango

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