By John Corrado
★★★ (out of 4)
Throughout their filmography of over thirty features, DreamWorks Animation has had a somewhat mixed output, evident just last year with three films ranging in quality from the surprisingly good Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the outstanding How To Train Your Dragon 2, to the very disappointing Penguins of Madagascar.
Amidst these genuine highs and relative lows, Home falls in the middle ground of being one of their pretty good ones, a nicely animated and easily entertaining science fiction comedy, with some heart and positive messages about being different. This is simply a fun diversion, nothing more and nothing less.
After our planet is taken over by an alien race known as the Boov, under the pompous leadership of Captain Smek (Steve Martin), Tip (Rihanna) ends up separated from her mom (Jennifer Lopez), and is travelling across the country to get her back. When Oh (Jim Parsons) unwittingly becomes an outlaw amongst his race, the innocent little alien joins the girl on her journey, and the two learn to help each other understand the importance of accepting differences.
The animation features some nice uses of purple and pastel colours, and there is a pleasantly bubbly look to the world of the film. Although the central premise does seem a little derivative of the vastly superior Lilo & Stitch, albeit without the emotional depth of that Disney classic, Home modestly works because of its own appealing girl and her alien leads. Tip is a refreshingly natural heroine, ably voiced by Rihanna, who also adds several upbeat pop songs to the frequently catchy soundtrack.
As both comic foil and sidekick, Oh provides an adorable and appealingly designed counterpart who should sell a lot of Happy Meal toys, with the two of them making the film into a sort of mismatched buddy comedy. We can practically see how much fun Jim Parsons must have had behind the microphone, and his line readings are often very funny. I couldn’t think of a better actor or more fitting choice to voice such a likeable and naive alien character.
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed Home. Although following a predictable story that will prove to be more exciting for kids than adults, DreamWorks seems completely satisfied with delivering a product that sets out simply to entertain, and sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. This is a fun and often amusing ride, delivering enough action and popping colours to keep the young ones engaged, while entertaining older audiences with some clever one-liners and appealing voice work from Jim Parsons.