By Todd Perkins, Staff Movie Critic
With Disney and Pixar releasing major blockbuster animated films year after year, it becomes harder to find something that can compete with the likes of “Toy Story” and “Frozen.”
Out of all the studios competing in the animated market, DreamWorks Animation has been slowly making a name for itself with such hits as “Shrek”, “Madagascar”, and “How to Train Your Dragon”.
Now, after three major successful franchises under its belt, DreamWorks brings its latest effort “Home” to the big screen armed with star voice talents, popular pop songs, and broad humor for parents and children alike to enjoy.
This story starts off with a frightened alien race known as ‘The Boov’ taking over Earth in order to use the planet as a hiding place from an enemy. When one Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons) accidentally sends out a message which reveals their location to anyone in the solar system, he is forced to go on the run in order to avoid being placed under arrest and ‘erased’.
While running from his own kind, Oh comes across a human teenage girl nicknamed Tip (Rihanna) who has been separated from her mother. Oh and Tip are forced to team up in an effort to find Tip’s mother, clear Oh’s reputation, and save the world.
This is the type of movie that is best seen in a packed theater filled with both kids and adults who are intent on having a good time. There are many factors that come to play when judging whether or not this film ultimately works, and hearing the reaction of a large audience is the best indicator of how successful the jokes, characters, and story turns out to be. It can only be assumed that the experience of watching “Home” in a near empty cinema would be rather unpleasant because of how unoriginal and one-dimensional the movie actually is on its own merits.
The writing is weak and predictable, the comical elements have that focus group sensibility that suggests that every joke has been tested in order to ensure that every demographic is represented, and the story arch and overall theme of the film seems reminiscent of many other animated features ranging from “Wreck-it-Ralph” to “The Croods”.
Despite the many familiar aspects of this movie, there are two areas that the film handles incredibly well.
Firstly, the voice acting from Parsons and Rihanna is spot on with both actors nailing every emotional and humorous beat, and Steve Martin also scores laughs as the voice of the egotistical and clueless leader of the Boov Captain Smek.
Secondly, the physical design for all the alien creatures is by far the most creative and interesting element of the work, with every new otherworldly character exhibiting some new inventive and detailed trait that seems plausible and thought out in this established digital world.
With so many animated films coming out in 2015 such as “Minions”, “Inside Out”, and “The Peanuts Movie” it seems to be a safe bet that this movie will be forgotten by the year’s end. While “Home” is not a bad, and it certainly is not the worst animated film to come out in the last few years, it is disappointing considering how great and entertaining previous films from DreamWorks Animation have been.
Rather than being something special, here is a film that allows viewers a fun time at the movies while leaving them wondering what’s next?