Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bore Of The Worlds

Year: 2015
Director: Tim Johnson
Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin
Run Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG

I am neither a child nor a drunk frat guy. As such, farts utterly fail to amuse me. If you disagree with this sentiment, please feel free to skip the rest of this review and go play Call of Duty. If you are a child, feel free to win. Knock those frat guys down a peg, why don't you?

Home, according to people who are far more educated on the topic than me, found DreamWorks Animation on a precipice. The studio that brought us Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon has fallen upon hard times and the success of the company hinged upon the box office take of a little film starring a pop star and that annoying nerd from Big Bang Theory. 2015 isn't exactly the Golden Age of animation.

Luckily for the studio and B-level animation fans everywhere, Home pulled its weight in the theatrical market. Unluckily for just about everyone, it's probably the most listlessly generic family comedy in a generation. In the wake of genuinely intelligent and entertaining kiddie fare like The Lego Movie and Big Hero 6, perhaps it just seems more egregiously wan that it truly is. But the case remains that the film is nothing but a prattling, pop music-shilling wisp, providing naught but the most base level quality at every turn.

"Kids love adorable sidekicks, right? Why not give the little bastards two? That'll really get them buying plushies. Hey Dave, quit hogging the Spray Cheez." - Some DreamWorks Executive, probably

Home tells the story of Oh (Jim Parsons), a small purple Boov. The Boov are an alien race that excel at one thing: running away. After their cowardly Captain Smeck (Steve Martin on Dramamine) panics at a treaty meeting and accidentally steals a valuable stone from their enemy the Gorg, they must find a new place for their race to hide. The solution? A little blue marble known as Earth covered in a self-destructive, hairy scourge known as the human race.

The Boov rampage the planet with their superior technology, relocating humanity to a planned living community in Australia. Honestly, it sounds kind of nice. There's no work to be done, and an amusement park made of ice cream dominates the landscape. But Home was made in America, so this socialist utopia is obviously unspeakably evil. Thanks, Obama.

When Oh accidentally sends a housewarming e-vite to the Gorg (a note to developers: maybe rethink that function in the next focus meeting), the Boov scramble to prevent their nemesis from finding their new hiding place. Oh becomes a fugitive and forms an unlikely team with the renegade human child Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (Rihanna), who just wants to find her mother (Jennifer Lopez), who was stolen from her during the Boov invasion.

On their journey together, Oh discovers that uniformity and cowardice shouldn't be his only tenets in life, and Tip discovers that they're both outcasts, learning that she is too keen on pushing people away. "The power of friendship" and "beauty isn't skin deep" and all that great stuff. Hooray!

"Never trust a guy with a mustache."

There are numerous film-breaking problems with Home, not the least of which is its devastatingly ugly animation style. The humans are nothing more than glassy-eyed Pop! Vinyl figurines, and the Boov are just unrendered Play-Doh excretions. Its dully functional narrative harbors exactly zero surprises, and the apocalyptic profusion of Rihanna singles that peppers the film renders it nothing more than a schizophrenic concept album. 

Especially in the first half, the muslin thin plot is torn to bits by odious slapstick, an alarming wealth of low rent scatological humor, and the utterly mystifying grammatical construction of the Boov dialect, which is something like a dyslexic Yoda being smothered with a thesaurus. It is perfunctory, feeble, and distractingly inconsistent. You're telling me that the Boov have such a mastery of human culture that they regularly fall to pieces at a terrible "Busta Rhymes" pun, but are unable to comprehend what a high five is? 

OK, that one is nitpicky, but give me a break. Maybe don't have a character wear a tire as a hat, then make a pun revealing that he knows exactly what function the object affixed to his cranium truly serves. It's damn sloppy is what it is, and I won't stand for it.

Though maybe the film in which a car runs on a Slurpee machine shouldn't be analyzed with a fine-toothed comb.

OK, despite my unbridled anger at that tire thing, Home isn't exactly the Marquis du Sade of children's movies. There's enough in there to be at least remotely entertaining, and the comedy does pick up once the endless setup flatulates its way offscreen. It's still generally broad and unenthusiastic, but several lines are gutbusters with a remarkably mature outlook on the world.

There's also some genuinely decent world building, especially regarding the clever design of Boov technology, which is generally soft and round with an efficient and engaging functionality, using a consistent and aesthetically pleasing bubble motif. And the "camera" engages with the material, creating motion more often than not, indicating that at least somebody cared about the film (for the record, it's not me).

And the voice cast is decent: Parsons and Martin milk their personas for exactly as much as they're worth nowadays, and Rihanna gives a performance that isn't exactly memorable, but is certainly more than anybody could have thought her capable of. Likewise, the film's commitment to diversity and racial representation is impossible to overlook.

The cherry on top? There's exactly one memorable image in the film. That's not necessarily a plus, but it's a doozy, and it's one I'll be thinking about for a long time to come. So there's that.

All in all, the film as a whole is pleasant enough, but it's nothing to write home about. And that pun is better than about 75 percent of the movie, so you're welcome.


TL;DR: Home is a tragically generic, relentlessly mercenary kiddie picture, but it has at least a couple moments of real entertainment.
Rating: 5/10
Should I Spend Money On This? I'd say no. It's already earned enough to save DreamWorks and prove that minority protagonists are viable in the market, so save your hard-earned cash. And also I'm sorry for the delay in getting this review out. I'm a busy boy.
Word Count: 1083

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