In this image released by DreamWorks Animation, characters Oh, voiced by Jim Parsons, left, and Tip, voiced by Rihanna appear in a scene from the animated film "Home." (AP Photo/DreamWorks Animation)

In this image released by DreamWorks Animation, characters Oh, voiced by Jim Parsons, left, and Tip, voiced by Rihanna appear in a scene from the animated film "Home." (AP Photo/DreamWorks Animation)

Reeling it in: Who says you can’t enjoy ‘Home’?


DreamWorks Animation

1 hour, 34 minutes


Whenever I go to see a kids’ movie, especially one that my own kids enjoy, I feel a kind of pressure to like it. And when I don’t, I feel kind of like the Grinch. Why do I have to rain on everyone’s parade?

I remember feeling that way after seeing one of those “Cars” spin-off “Planes” movies. They were junk, but everyone around me loved them and a friend of mine who’s a pilot was going on and on about how cool it was that they had a movie from the planes’ point of view and then there’s old sour Gus, griping that “the script is sub-standard and where was that crop-duster’s motivation?” C’mon, lighten up already!

I guess it’s not that hard to guess how I felt about this week’s alien invasion romp, “Home.”

Actually, the movie’s not that bad — more tiresome than anything. Based on Adam Rex’s ambitious 2007 comic YA novel, “The True Meaning of Smekday,” “Home” tells the story of a traveling race of aliens called the Boov. The Boov are a people who prize caution above all else, and pride themselves on being highly accomplished at running away. Currently on the run from a terrifying warlike race called the Gorg, the Boov happen across Earth and decide that it would be a perfect place to settle and hide.

Luckily, Earth is only populated with simple, intellectually backward creatures who can be easily relocated to a vast suburb on the continent of Australia. With all the people out of the way, the Boov happily move in and take over, remaking the landscape with advanced bubble technology that allows landmarks, buildings, even mountain ranges, to float peacefully above the ground.

There’s no reason for this, but the Boov are a little bubble-headed themselves, not realizing that perhaps Earth’s denizens might not want to relocate to Australia. They’re going to find out, however. There’s one human who got left behind at the last moment, a young girl named Gratuity Tucci (nicknamed, naturally, Tip) and she’s on a mission to find her mother.

On the Boov side of things, we have Oh, named for the exasperated sound his fellows make when they hear him coming. Oh is enthusiastic and kind, but accident prone, and has nearly caused his race’s extinction on more than one occasion. While trying to invite friends to his new apartment-warming party, Oh inadvertently invites the entire galaxy, sending the Gorg his address and revealing to them the Boov’s new home planet.

Suddenly finding himself Boov Public Enemy No. 1, Oh crosses paths with Tip and the two make a pact to help one another. Guess who become friends and find a spirit of understanding and cooperation on the way?

Much of what’s wrong with this story could have to do with the fact that a dense, detail filled 400-plus page novel has been crammed into a 90-minute cartoon aimed at first- and second-graders. The film feels rushed, as though the plot is in a race to unspool before the credits roll. There is quite a bit of story packed into the film, but most of it feels like it’s given short shrift.

The film is mostly “inspired” by “The True Meaning of Smekday,” and my favorite part of the film, a spoiler I won’t reveal, is a complete 180 from the book. I think the screenwriters could have gotten away with simplifying things quite a bit and saved the audience from rapidly-paced plot overload. The film is resigned to giving us goofy, somewhat cuddly characters and not much else. Steve Martin is completely wasted as Captain Smek, the hapless Boov leader who brings his people to Earth (renamed Smekland, in his honor). Jim Parsons, of “The Big Bang Theory” is Oh, and he’s fine, though I quickly became annoyed with the Boov’s backwards Yoda-esque way of speaking. That may work better on the page, but on-screen I was reminded of another annoying, speech-challenged “Star Wars” character, Jar Jar Binks. Rihanna shows up to voice a 12-year old girl, which is weird in itself, but she does a passable job at least.

The screenplay is definitely lacking. There’re a lot of one-liners and silly pratfalls, but nothing approaching character development. It’s a harmless kids’ movie, you say? Yes, but kids’ movies are a heck of a lot better than they used to be and studios, especially Dreamworks, which has the “Madagascar” films and “Kung Fu Panda” on its roster, can’t afford to slack.

Harmless, though, I will agree with. “Home” is certainly innocuous and has a good heart. The moral is a good one, and my kids certainly got a kick out of the cool sci-fi eye-candy the film offers up.

I wasn’t particularly impressed, but neither did I actively dislike the movie, like I did “Cars 2” or the “Planes” films.

One interesting side-note: in the book, the character of Oh is actually named J-Lo. Wisely deciding against that infamous moniker, the filmmakers renamed him, but instead cast the actual Jennifer Lopez to voice Gratuity’s mother, keeping at least a little J-Lo in the film after all. If only they’d spent as much time working on the rest of the script.

Grade: C+

“Home” is rated PG for mild rude humor.


Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

More in Life

Rory Funk and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Marion, or the True Tale of Robin Hood” at the Kenai Art Center on Thursday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Shooting through the status quo

Treefort Theatre retells Robin Hood tale with a twist

Poster for 2nd Annual Indigenous Language Film Festival. (Provided by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Indigenous Education Progam)
Indigenous language film fest returns with 16 submissions

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Indigenous Education Program hosted its Second Annual Indigenous Language Film Festival on Thursday

A copy of Tom Kizzia’s “Cold Mountain Path” rests on a table on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Ghosts come alive in Kizzia’s ‘Cold Mountain Path’

From boomtown to abandoned, the town of McCarthy sets the stage for a compelling narrative

Minister’s Message: Ending Well

I have a deep sense of sorrow, when I see someone not ending life well because they ignored living a life of faith or by failing in integrity or in faithfulness

Floyd “Pappy” Keeler, standing in 1951 in front of his cabin on the homestead of his son Jack, is holding a girl who is likely Barbara Sandstrom, while her sister Rhoda, standing by a truck, looks on. Ray Sandstrom photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 7

Speculation was rife after the younger brother of Floyd Nelson Keeler went missing

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Perspective

To prefer one thing over another does not make the unpreferred bad, or unhealthy, or criminal, it just means you have found something better for you

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling.
A light meal to fuel fun family outings

This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling

Christ Lutheran Church Pastor Meredith Harber displays necklaces featuring the cross in this undated photo. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Interwoven together for good

I hope that we can find that we have more in common than we realize

Virgil Dahler photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive
This aerial view from about 1950 shows Jack Keeler’s home on his homestead east of Soldotna. The stream to the left is Soldotna Creek, and the bridge across the stream probably allowed early access to the Mackey Lakes area. The road to the right edge of the photo leads to the Sterling Highway.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 6

“Most of those homesteaders won’t last”

A sign points to the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, May 9, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Art Center accepting submissions for ‘Medieval Forest’

The deadline to submit art is Saturday at 5 p.m.

People identifying as Democrats and people identifying as Republicans sit face to face during a workshop put on by Braver Angels in this screenshot from “Braver Angels: Reuniting America.” (Screenshot courtesy Braver Angels)
KPC lecture series to feature film and discussion about connecting across political divide

“Braver Angels: Reuniting America” is a nonpartisan documentary about a workshop held in the aftermath of the 2016 election of Donald Trump

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This basil avocado dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous — great for use on bitter greens like kale and arugula.
Memories of basil and bowling with Dad

This dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous