The Bock’s Office: ‘Home’ is where the wackiness is
April 3, 2015
The definition of "Home" means something different to everyone, but for most of us, it's likely not a place where you use your toilet brush in your mouth and chug motor oil as a beverage. Some visitors may disagree.
If you go…
"Home," rated PG
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 94 minutes
Starring:Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin.
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The planet Earth as we know it has just been changed forever, with a friendly invasion by an alien race known as the Boov. The technologically advanced visitors have decided that our world is perfectly suited to their needs as they seek a new place to hide out from their many enemies, relocating the human population and taking most of the globe for themselves.
Among these odd little creatures is Oh (voice of Jim Parsons), an irrepressibly upbeat outcast who, try as he might, hasn't a companion in the entire universe even in this part of the galaxy. Until now, his attempts to find popularity have only been a minor nuisance to the rest of the Boov, but when Oh commits the biggest in a long line of mistakes, he may have doomed all his people by revealing their location and made himself Public Enemy No. 1.
On the lam, his only thought is to find the safety of isolation, but when he encounters a teenage girl (Rihanna) hoping to find her transplanted mother, Oh has to step up and fight his Boov instinct to protect his own interests at all costs.
After so many years of playing a jittery, unpredictable sort who may as well be an extraterrestrial, Parsons of TV's "The Big Bang Theory" adds warmth and many laughs as the most oblivious being in the world, his loneliness matched only by his overeagerness to make friends, even if it's with someone who doesn't speak in the same fractured grammar or have six feet, scent organs in their ears and purple skin that changes color based on emotion.
His new travel buddy is named Gratuity Tucci — her friends call her Tip — who only just got used to life in New York after moving from Barbados before her mom (Jennifer Lopez) got sucked into an alien tube right in front of her.
On Christmas morning, no less.
So, you'll forgive her hostility if she isn't enthusiastic about being paired with the same person she blames for this latest misfortune, even if he is handy with repairing her family car with nothing but the inventory of a convenience store, complete with an engine that runs on slushies, weaponized nacho cheese and a lottery ticket dispenser.
Oh, and did we mention it flies?
Tip may not love Oh at first, but it's a different story with her calico cat, named Pig for his curlicue tail, whose constant cuddling with the little alien has Oh convinced the fuzzy animal is some kind of time bomb.
You can't blame him for his ignorance when you see the Boov's leader, the vainglorious Captain Smek, voiced with unabashed grandeur by Steve Martin. Imagine if Captains Bligh or Ahab had a deep love for bubble wrap and other Earth junk and were held in high regard purely for their ability to run away from danger, namely a destructive race known as the Gorg.
Of course, Smek also has something these men never did — behold the awesome power that is the Shusher!
DreamWorks Animation is never afraid to be over-the-top silly, and that's especially true in the studio's screen version of Adam Rex's "The True Meaning of Smekday." Oh's involuntary and panicky dance moves — "How long before this kills me?!" — and his barrage of unanswerable queries — "What is the purpose of your face?" — are certainly amusing, as are the Boov's many very human idiosyncrasies.
Always staring at communication devices and a proclivity for moving indigenous peoples whenever they become an inconvenience — sound familiar?
It's the human part of this that offers nothing new. A child and parent trying to reunite ain't anything special no matter how heartwarming because "An American Tail," "Finding Nemo" and plenty of others already did it before better.
As long as we're discussing that issue, is it a requirement of cartoon characters that they need to be oddballs who can't fit into any society for them to be relatable to viewers?
Can the hero of the next big animated movie please be painfully ordinary and forced to find their inner strength without the tacked-on message that what makes us different makes us special?
It may be the same old thing, but "Home" still gets the job done as an entertaining albeit loud kids movie, and hopefully the youngsters who watch it won't be put off by its familiarity. And, since a number of them probably watch their favorite film three times per day on DVD anyway, repetition is hardly a concern.
At least this one reminds them that it's never a good idea to drink from the big bowl of lemonade.