Directed by Tim Johnson
Starring Jim Parsons, Rihanna & Steve Martin
As I towered above the vibrating mass of sugar-hyped kids, standing a couple of inches over 6ft and weighing-in at around 14 stone, it suddenly dawned on me that I had become a walking cliché of the term ‘big kid’. I politely passed on the photo-opp with the extraterrestrial star of the film, sensibly declined the swollen mounds of free sugary snacks and, instead, patiently took to my seat… who am I kidding? I took 27 selfies with the damn alien and knocked back successive jelly shots, like a child trying to erase the memories of an awful week; I also binged on alien face cookies. But to the film…
Oh (Parsons) is a unique character amongst a race of conformist ‘Boov’ aliens, dutifully following the commands of their leader Smek (Martin). Boovs hold pride in their cowardice and being “the best species at running away,” but running away requires a host planet. Earth is the new target, as they attempt to escape their nemesis, the Gorg, but there’s just one issue: it’s already inhabited. Does this matter? Not at all, so long as you immediately accept the human race’s relocation to ‘Happy Humans Town’, a theme park style town in the middle of Australia.
After inadvertently pinging a party invite with Planet Earth’s coordinates to the entire galaxy, including the Gorg mothership, Oh goes on the run. Paths collide with a resourceful 12-year old girl Tip (Rihanna), along with her pet cat, Pig, who is determined to find her mother again (Jennifer Lopez) and, while personalities clash, they work together to save the planet and reunite the family.
While the irreverent book comes packed with pop-culture references, this adaptation (scripted by Epic writers Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember) tones down this form of humour in an attempt to create a timeless script, favouring more situation- and character-dependent anecdotes. From a personal standpoint, I appreciated Dreamworks ability to note that pop-culture references put an expiry date stamp upon any film, although Smekday fans will certainly appreciate Lopez lending her voice to the film; considering she was the butt of one of the book’s best jokes, in which the character now called ‘Oh’ was known as ‘J.Lo.’.
For the full 94-minutes, my attention neither dwindled nor strayed far from the screen. The unsettled ‘filming’ style, emulating that of a handheld camera at times, kept the audience captivated, as did the multiple and sudden storyline changes. The best way to back this up would be to point out that an audience with the average age of way-too-young managed to remain silent throughout the duration of the film – give these guys an Oscar!
Home is bursting with appeal for a younger audience. From a catalogue of quotable catchphrases and cute character designs, through to a solid musical contribution from Rihanna and Lopez, a child would easily be enthralled by a similar spectacle for hours on end. Jim Parsons’ alien portrayal was also identical to that of his other famous role as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, perhaps attracting a slightly older child audience and young adult; this could either be a comment against the actor’s lack of character diversity, or perfect scripting of the role – personally, I would insist upon the latter. The Boov also communicate in a comical Pidgin English, which resembles less of the charming reverse-syntax of Yoda and more of Jar Jar Binks and his butchering of the language.
There are no major breakthroughs in the technological creativity of the film, perhaps standing out only slightly from the standard production line of animated films. It doesn’t quite manage to explore the concept of loneliness in an effective manner, as seen in Antz, Frozen, ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph or Big Hero 6, but it does add to the cause which should earn any viewer’s respect. You won’t be pulling the film out of a dusty pile 20 years down the line, but it certainly left many people teary-eyed (myself included) and was an incredibly enjoyable experience.