“Home” is, for now, DreamWorks Animation’s only 2015 release. Thankfully, based on the early box office, it’s helping bring the studio back from the brink of financial disaster. Adapted from the novel “The True Meaning of Smekday” by Adam Rex, “Home” is a very simple, high-energy adventure that’s filled with color and imagination, and is perfect for kids 12 and under.
Director Tim Johnson (“Over the Hedge”) told me in an interview that the quirky main character named Oh, and “Big Bang Theory” Emmy-winner Jim Parsons were a casting match made in heaven. Parsons brings-out all the likable traits of the lonely Boov alien through a voice performance filled with human grammatical errors that, somehow, doesn’t get annoying.
In the basic plot, the Boov creatures are constantly on the run from their enemy, the Gorg, and they have chosen Earth as their new place to live. In order to inhabit our planet, wacky Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) forces all citizens to leave their homes, transporting them by spaceship to far-off places.
Oh immediately causes some big trouble (which he is always doing) on Earth, and then encounters the last remaining human, a young girl named Tip (voiced by Rihanna) and her cat, Pig. Why she was able to escape the evacuation is revealed a little too early, but helps to move the story along. Tip decides to team-up with Oh, who has fixed her car so that it now flies and runs on slushie drinks, so they can try to find Tip’s mom (Jennifer Lopez) and stop the Gorg from locating the Boov and destroying them.
“Home” has one of the smallest casts in the history of animated films. There are, basically, five legitimate characters (and that includes the cat). The majority of the movie is dependent on the conversations and relationship between Oh and Tip, and they do make a sweet and fun pair. There are a few moments of dry humor, but not an overwhelming amount, and no big laughs. But it’s not that type of film. The screen time of Martin’s Smek, who is the over-the-top character, is thankfully kept to a minimum.
Johnson said that having music as an actual element of the film was very important to him. Several songs by Rihanna (including “Dancing in the Dark” that Tip and Oh listen to in the car, and the alien actually makes some negative comments such as “It’s just noise”), and the excellent Jennifer Lopez song “Feel the Light” are incorporated into events in the story, and not simply buried in the end credits.
“Home” is a solid and enjoyable effort from DreamWorks. Like the Boov, “Home” runs away from the idea of taking risks. Here Johnson’s made a movie that sticks to one of the DWA core themes of the unexpected bond, with an emphasis on family, friendship, being who you are, and finding that place you can truly call “home”.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Home” gets a B.
Running Time: 94 min.