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"HOME"
(2015) (voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna) (PG)


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QUICK TAKE:
Computer-Animated Sci-Fi Comedy: After he inadvertently sends out a message that might alert his species' enemy to their whereabouts now on Earth, an extraterrestrial goes on the run with a human teen who's searching for her mother.
PLOT:
As noted by Oh (voice of JIM PARSONS), his species is quite good at running away, and they've now left their last planet to repopulate Earth. That's in hopes of avoiding detection by their mortal enemy, the Gorg, and after relocating all humans to just one spot on Earth, the Boov take over the planet. To celebrate, Oh sends traffic controller Kyle (voice of MATT JONES) an invite to his welcome party, unaware that he's sent it to everyone. To make matters worse, it's also now traveling away from the planet, likely to arrive in the inbox of the Gorg leader and thus alert him to the new home of the Boov.

As a result, the Boov leader, Captain Smek (voice of STEVE MARTIN), has the smartest Boov try to break Oh's email password and thus stop the message, while also ordering Kyle to find Oh just in case they fail. Little do they know that he's now on the run with Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (voice of RIHANNA), a teenager who accidentally wasn't relocated and has been living in hiding in her city. She's desperate to find her mom, Lucy (voice of JENNIFER LOPEZ), while Oh secretly wants to flee to Antarctica. The two end up forming an unlikely partnership, all while Capt. Smek and the rest of the Boov fear that the Gorg will soon be coming.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
Back as a teenager growing up in the 1970s, I loved alien invasion movies, be that the Donald Sutherland remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." When I was younger, however, the notion of extraterrestrials showing up terrified me. Perhaps it was having read about the alleged abduction of Betty and Barney Hill, but I clearly remember being quite worried about UFOs showing up.

I imagine some imaginative kids out there still share the same sort of fears. I doubt, however, that the extraterrestrial takeover film "Home" will exacerbate such worries or add any newcomers to the fold. Of course, much of that stems from the fact that it's a computer animated comedy aimed at pre-teens, and that the majority of the aliens -- save for one group that's only really personified at the end -- are a bunch of bumbling boobs.

Or Boovs as they're identified here by our chatty protagonist, a character named Oh (for how everyone he knows negatively reacts to his presence), voiced by Jim Parsons from TV's "The Big Bang Theory." Oh and his entire population have arrived on Earth because, as he informs us, they're good at running away. This time, they've chosen our third rock from the sun and have relocated all humans to a huge settlement far away so that they, the Boov, can get settled and discard things that don't make sense to them, be that bicycles or toilets.

Their peace is short-lived, however, when Oh accidentally sends out a welcome party invite to everyone in the galaxy. Not surprisingly, he's deemed a fugitive by their leader (voiced by Steve Martin having fun playing a blowhard). That makes him somewhat similar to a young human, Tip (voiced by singer Rihanna, whose songs permeate the soundtrack), who accidentally wasn't abducted and is looking for her mother (Jennifer Lopez) who was.

Adapting Adam Rex's 2007 children's book "The True Meaning of Smekday," scribes Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember have fashioned the story as a fish out of water meets mismatched buddy movie where Oh thinks he has this world figured out (in a nerdy way akin to how Parson's TV alter ego acts on a week to week basis), much to the chagrin of Tip who has only one goal in mind. And that's all while Oh's party invite travels out into the universe, with Martin's character trying to stop that before it reaches the literal inbox of their feared enemy.

That's about it, and while director Tim Johnson ("Over the Hedge," "Antz") keeps things moving at a brisk pace, there's not a lot to keep this vehicle afloat. Beyond a few throwaway lines and brief moments of humor, most of the comedy and drama plays fairly young. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but the best such efforts play equally to all ages and this one comes up short for teen or adult viewers.

It all goes down fairly easily, the animation is decent but clearly not spectacular (it looks like any mid-range animated movie), and the story has a few nicely played emotional moments toward the end. But it also contains a lot of material (including the Rihanna songs and related montages) that feels like little more than filler, thus making the flick seemingly drag on longer than its 90-some minutes. And it certainly doesn't compare favorably to other extraterrestrial meets kid movies, be that "E.T." or "Lilo & Stitch."

While another fear-inducing element of my early childhood repeated the line "There's no place like home," there were plenty of other places I'd rather be than sit through this particular "Home" again. It rates as a 4.5 out of 10.




Reviewed March 21, 2015 / Posted March 27, 2015


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