While watching “Home,” a comedic animated take on alien-attack thrillers with tacked-on feel-good sentiments. This is the Home Review & Movie Summary.
I became bored, as did the families seated around me. Rare is the child-filled theater that falls silent during the first few minutes of any film.
Especially when they should have been laughing at Steve Martin’s supposed wild-and-crazy vocals as Smek, the daffy leader of a nomadic race of pastel-hued outer-space blobs known as the Boov.
Then I began to feel nostalgic. Before donning cheap plastic 3-D glasses was considered de rigueur, and when artists still took pride in drawing images by hand.
Disney took a risk and released the two-dimensional “Lilo & Stitch” in 2002, just as the computerized revolution that began with “Toy Story” and continued with “Shrek” and “Ice Age” was about to render such non-CG cartoon titles nearly obsolete.
This endearing story is about a lonely orphaned Hawaiian girl whose best friend is an ill-tempered fugitive space creature that looks like a mutant koala bear and acts like John Belushi at an all-day buffet found its way into moviegoers’ hearts.
It didn’t rely on a green ogre picking wax out of his trumpet ears or a squirrel rat being tortured by nature all the time. The endearing oddity captured the spirit of the islands by extolling the concept of “ohana,” which celebrates family and unity while playing Elvis Presley classics on its soundtrack.
Whatever sci-fi elements were present were kept to a bare minimum. Instead, the emphasis was on likable characters, relatable relationships, and amusing forays into Polynesian kitsch.
Despite being an underdog, the low-tech Oscar nominee for best-animated feature ended up earning $271 million in worldwide ticket sales.
How the world of animation has changed, and not always for the better. I kept thinking about “Lilo & Stitch” while watching “Home,” a decidedly disappointing effort from DreamWorks Animation based on the popular children’s book “The True Meaning of Smekday.”
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Following the Academy Award loss of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” to Disney’s “Big Hero 6” and the underperformance of “Penguins of Madagascar” last fall, the studio needed its lone offering this year to be a significant leap forward rather than this obvious exercise in playing it safe.
I yearned for a break from the constant joking, the antsy visuals bursting with bubbles, and the frantic pacing as the Boov took over Earth and kicked humans to the curb. Much of the plot is eerily similar to “Lilo & Stitch”: Tip (voiced with verve by Rihanna).
A pre-teen girl originally from Barbados who somehow avoided the intergalactic intruders, meets Oh (Jim Parsons from “The Big Bang Theory”). Oh, who avoids contractions when speaking in a supposedly amusing patois (a lot of “do not” and “can not’s”), is on the run after accidentally alerting his race’s mortal enemy to the location of their new digs.
Tip is desperate to find her mother (Jennifer Lopez), who has been whisked away with the rest of humanity to an unknown location while surviving on what appears to be cans of Chef Boyardee.
As a result, she initially distrusts Oh and locks him in a convenience store cooler. He asks, “Can I come in from the outside now?” cutely through the glass.
While most Boov is timid and lacks the social skills required to make friends, they are quite skilled when it comes to gadgets and useful tools. Oh, triumphs over Tip by transforming her damaged car into a flying vehicle using the store’s snack machines and slushie drinks as fuel.
Consider that one of the flavors is called “Busta Lime,” a joke that is repeated at least three times, and you’ll have a good idea of the level of humor. From there, “Home” evolves into a cross-country road trip adventure shared by Tip, her cat Pig, and Oh.
I wanted to get to know Tip and Oh a little better before they went gawking at a Boovified Statue of Liberty and endangering the Eiffel Tower. But, for the most part, they argue incessantly and loudly until they naturally become bosom buddies.
There are some clever moments, such as Oh’s big dance number to “Dancing in the Dark” by Stargate. We must then listen to Tip say, “Shake your Boov thing.” Things could get a lot worse. Oh, and the book’s title is—wait for it—J. Lo. One can only assume that is why Ms. Lopez was hired, given that she only has a few lines and sings one song on the soundtrack (Rihanna, however, gets a bunch of tunes).
I was mostly disturbed by some plot points that should have been addressed from the start. Yes, the Boov have the ability to manipulate gravity to their advantage. But when did humans start acting like sheep and not rebelling when outsiders forced them into mass captivity?
Did anyone even try to fight back? Did the president or the military simply give up? Surprisingly, when we see where they are exiled, it appears to be a theme park (dubbed Happy Humantown) complete with rides, ice cream cones, and happy faces.
And why is Tip the only one who appears to have avoided being sucked up into a massive vacuum tube and taken away by these creatures that resemble a cross between a jellyfish and an eraser?
People, you do not submit. Has no one seen “War of the Worlds” or, for more esoteric tastes, “Mars Attacks!”?
It’s too bad “Home” isn’t better because it does provide a much-needed break from one unfortunate DreamWorks tradition. The tip isn’t just one of the studio’s few female lead characters (two others come to mind: Susan aka Ginormica in “Monsters vs. Aliens” and Gloria the hippo in the “Madagascar” series). She is the first female lead of color, with gorgeous natural hair and realistic body proportions.
As it came to a close (with another dance number, of course, because you have to shake that Boov thing as much as you can), “Home” made me appreciate one thing: being able to return home and dig out my copy of “Lilo & Stitch.”