This year we’ve already had the likes of Big Hero 6 and Shaun the Sheep Movie cheering up our big-screens and taking in tons of money in the process. The latest is Home, a bright and bubbly animation from DreamWorks which they will no doubt be hoping follows in the franchise footsteps of How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek.
The film follows the “Boove,” a hive-like alien species who have decided to invade planet Earth and call it their home. When loveable misfit alien Oh (voiced by The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons) finds himself on the run from his own people, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a human girl named Tip (Rihanna) who is on a quest to find her mother.
With more animated movies being released these days than ever before, it’s hard for one to truly make a mark and stand out as something special. Does Home tick that particular box? Not quite but what it does do is provide a perfectly enjoyable, affable and refreshingly unpretentious cinematic experience, one that sits at the level of its young target audience without talking down to them.
The main reason the film works is down to its voice talent, particularly Parson in the lead role. Where many animations, particularly the big-budget ones, simply hire famous names to slap on the poster in an effort to draw in as big of audience as possible, without true thought to how well those celebrities’ voices suit the characters, Home fits its central character around the actor. Big Bang Theory fans will be used to Parsons’ brand of pernickety, geeky outsider humour and it’s a case here of a match made in heaven. And perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise of it all is Rihanna, smashing down the “having a big name celebrity just for the sake of it” criticism as she does a very good job voicing Tip, the most complex character in the film who is both fiercely determined and entirely vulnerable.
Home has a gimmick, as so many of these types of films do, in that Oh speaks in a sort of overly formal and complicated English such as “It should to hover much better now” and “Can I come into the out now?” that highlights his alien-nature in more ways than just appearance. You’ll know within the first two minutes of hearing Oh speak whether you find it endearing and charming or just plain irritating. I am happy to say I fall into the former category; yes, it maybe relies a bit too much on that dialogue device but it causes you to pay that littler bit more attention to what he’s saying.
A sort of E.T. for the Despicable Me generation, Home fits the mould of all-round family entertainment perfectly well, with an amiable mix of slapstick humour, zippy action and bubblegum visuals. Are we going to be still thinking about it come year’s end? Probably not and it calls to mind other, better animated movies more often than it should. But there’s something to be said for an inoffensive, pleasant and good-natured animation that knows it target audience and plays to it with all its heart.