Movie review: Home
If you can get past the silly names and the fact everyone looks like a vinyl squeeze toy, this Tim Johnson movie proves a decent place to hang your hat
Featuring the voices of: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez
Directed by: Tim Johnson
Running time: 94 minutes
MPAA Rating: General
By Katherine Monk
What is home?
The real estate industry believes it’s the bricks and mortar investment of a lifetime, the buying and selling of concrete and wood boxes labeled with catchphrases such as “living the lifestyle” and pictures of cappuccino bars filled with beautiful people smiling over foamy drinks.
But missing among all these glossy images of people carrying shopping bags with blissful expressions, designer interiors and random close-ups of stylish objets d’art is a sense of genuine emotion – which, in the end, home is all about because it’s where the proverbial heart is.
Yet proverbs, true as they may ring, can also be irritating and banal condensations of complex human experience; existential angst reduced to kittens and treacle on a meme.
To really understand the true meaning of home, you have to feel it in your bones, and by the end of Tim Johnson’s animated adaptation of Adam Rex’s book, Home hits all the ossified bits inside.
It’s a gradual punch to the gut that starts from an alien point of view: Oh (Jim Parsons), a humanoid creature that looks part vinyl squeak toy and part cuttlefish, explains his species of Boov run from planet to planet, desperately trying to evade the Gorg.
The Gorg destroy planets with their gigantic mothership that sinks monolithic teeth into the core, prompting seismic collapse, and the Boov have seen one planet after another destroyed behind them.
When they get to Earth, they believe they’re so deep into the backwoods of the galaxy, they’ll be safe from harm. At least that’s what they’re cowardly leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin) keeps telling them. Smek takes pride in his ability to keep the Boov safe by bugging out, and he’s even prouder of his big stick, a sceptre-like object he calls “The Shusher” because if you hit people on the head with it, it shushes them up.
Oh idolizes Smek like all the other Boov, but the other Boov think Oh is a total loser. They don’t want to be his friend, but because Oh has a rubbery body and the sweetly irritating personality of Spongebob Squarepants, he bounces right back. He even invites everyone to his housewarming party, but in one of those “Reply All” blunders, he also includes The Gorg.
The invite needs to be deleted, but Oh can’t be found because he’s met a lone human named Tip (Rihanna), a girl passed over by the Boov’s forced evacuation of Earth because her cat, Pig, was sitting on her head the moment her house was scanned and reassigned as a Boov residence.
Now, the cat alone is reason to see the film because he’s chubby and cute and completely cat-like, but it’s the scenes between Oh and Tip that make this movie the charmer it is because they tap into the root meaning of home without sounding too pat or patronizing.
That said, most of the action is standard, Saturday morning Tom and Jerry chase scenes with a few cheesy comic flourishes thanks to Steve Martin and Jim Parson’s ability to give the lines a certain levity that matches Johnson’s directorial style.
Home does not have Disney’s symphonic range of drama, nor does it boast particularly lavish 3D visuals. But from the first beat, it’s clear Home isn’t going for the big catharsis backed by a power ballad.
This movie has much simpler, but far more profound ambitions. It wants to show us two different beings learn to get along, understand each other, and come to the rather obvious, but forever-contested conclusion that every living creature deserves a place to call home.
THE EX-PRESS, March 30, 2015