Sunday, July 12, 2015

In 'Home', Half-Expecting A "Bazinga!" to Happen Can't Be Helped

Throughout this movie, I was involuntary half-expecting that the expression “Bazinga!” was going to be uttered in this movie.  Well, the word wasn’t expressed.  But it still felt like that this movie – for better and worse – is one big “Bazinga!” happening.  It’s just quite hard separating Sheldon Cooper from the character Oh.  Actor Jim Parsons really has a distinguishable voice, which has already been thoroughly associated with his The Big Bang Theory character.  I like Sheldon Cooper, but I believe Jim Parsons only appeals when he’s Sheldon Cooper, and he’s cringe-worthy as a voice actor.  Oh eventually grew on me as a character, but this aspect was a one of this movie’s distractions.

I guess you can perceive already where this review is going.

Anyway, Home is based on the better titled book (in my opinion) The True Meaning of Smekday.  The movie tells the story of a cowardly alien race called the Boov who are on the run from an alien race called the Gorg.  Believing that the Earth is the best place for them to be safe from the Gorg, they relocated all humans into Australia and took the rest of the world for themselves.  The focus of the story is on Oh (Jim Parsons), an enthusiastic and free-thinking Boov, who is being hunted by the other Boovs for accidentally informing the Gorg where the Boov’s current location is.  While on the run, he comes across a human tweener named Gratuity “Tip” Tucci (Rihanna), and her cat, Pig (ridiculous cat name).  Forced by circumstance, Oh and Tip begin a globe-spanning adventure together and eventually learn that friendship between Human and Boov is possible.

Aside from the colorful, vibrant animation, what I like most about Home is it having a couple of clever, adorable, and funny science fiction ideas, especially with regards to the Boov race – their behavior, their physiology, their technology, how they treat human-made objects, and the way they “invaded” earth.  The humor and wackiness work at most parts, and the narrative has a sense of fun.  However, there is also a significant amount of stupidity in its plot that I find too distracting and which no amount of fun and clever details can make up for properly.

It also has this vague sense of artificiality.  It felt that particular elements were only added to the movie because they were proven to work for test audiences.  The story actually has this heartfelt message, but, again, having an awareness for this “vague sense of artificiality” kind of dilutes it.  The attempts to create drama and tension felt forced, and the adorability is obviously forced.  The artificiality also required the story to have familiar plot points, which make the narrative generally predictable.

But since Home is a movie for kids, I could choose to let off the stupidity and even the artificiality to an extent.  However, what I hated about this movie was how it has a lot of Rihanna in it.  Rihanna’s character, Tip, is pretty generic but is kind of okay.  What extremely annoyed me was the feeling that her music was being shoved down my throat.

Home is one of DreamWorks Animation’s weaker works.  It doesn’t offer anything that can match a Disney/Pixar level of quality – which DreamWorks proved to have been capable of doing in the past (e.g. How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, Megamind, ShrekPuss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2, etc.) – and it has its share of blandness and bothersome aspects.  But it’s not at all a trainwreck.  There is still an overall enjoyment to be had in this movie.  It’s just that Home is the kind of animated feature in which it’s required for an adult viewer to find his inner child so that he can go through this movie enjoying himself – he just have to consciously remind himself that, though it fails to satisfy his adult sensibilities, Home totally works as a cute kids movie.  Only once that is settled – and a degree of tolerance for Rihanna songs is developed – that Home can be enjoyed.  

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