Review: Stay home and avoid “Home”

The latest Dreamworks Animation offering does very little to differentiate itself among the crowded animated landscape while also being painfully unfunny.

            Animated movies get a lot of love when they are able to take a unique concept and make it something that both children and adults can enjoy. A perfect example would be last year’s “The Lego Movie.” That movie was able to craft an incredibly unique universe and pair it with jokes and gags that both kids and parents could enjoy.

            Dreamworks’ “Home” tries to be unique by using aliens, pet sidekicks and a globetrotting story. The problem is that most of the plot beats and humor have been done before, and in a much better way.

            The film centers around Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons), who is part of the alien species known as the Boov. He does not fit in with his other smart specimen no matter how much he tries. When the Boov take over Earth and Oh makes a mistake by accidentally sending coordinates to the evil Gorg species, he must do what Boovs do best: run and hide.

            While running, Oh makes an unexpected acquaintance, Tip (voiced by Rihanna). Tip is trying to find her mother (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) who was taken when the Boov took over. Oh and Tip team up to find her mother and save the planet from the evil Gorg species.

            Even though this is an original story, this has been seen a hundred times in a hundred different better movies. It is a mix of “E.T: The Extra Terrestrial” and almost every other classic Disney animated movie. Not only that, but the first act is so outrageous and zany that it already lost me and the audience I saw it with (full of younger children). 

            Despite all of the plot issues, the ending of the film surprisingly works. It is able to come together nicely and tug on the heart strings. If only the rest of the film worked…

            Throughout its short 93 minute runtime, “Home” tries so desperately hard to be funny. Visually it is zany and colorful, but outside of the accidental dance sequence that can be seen in the trailer, none of the physical comedy works. It goes for the lowest hanging fruit.

            With a screenplay from Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, whose previous work include “Epic” and “Get Smart,” the film never really tries to have any smart humor that is featured in other animated movies. Instead we have aliens mistaking urine for lemonade, using blow-dryers as inhalers and using really long passwords. It really is unmemorable stuff.

            The actors in the movie try their very best to make this thin script work, but they ultimately fail. Jim Parsons as Oh seems to be too on the nose, and even though this might be unfair to say, I kept thinking it was Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” trapped in an alien body the whole time.

            Don’t even get me started with Rihanna… Why she was chosen to play a little girl is way beyond me, but her voice just simply does not work for this movie. Not to mention there are a handful of Rihanna tracks sprinkled throughout the film, which is pretty cringe worthy.

            Overall, “Home” might be a colorful diversion for kids, but it is not the next classic animated film by any stretch of the imagination. The plot is recycled, the jokes are stale and the voice cast is uninspired. Hopefully Pixar shows Dreamworks how it is done when “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur” come out later this year.

            GRADE: C-