If you saw 2014’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman, you might remember the harmless animated short film that played before the movie and made people angry because it wasn’t the Rocky and Bullwinkle short that they were promised. That short film was Almost Home. Starring Steve Martin as Captain Smek, the short was expanded into the feature length Home with Jim Parsons and Rihanna starring, and Martin reprising his role.
The story involves a large group of Boovs on the run from the dangerous Gorg. The Boovs take over Planet Earth and relocate the humans to various other places on the Planet. However, one human girl, Tip (Rihanna), avoids the relocation beams. She meets up with Oh (Parsons), who is on the run from the Boov police because he accidentally sent an email to the Gorg inviting them to come to his housewarming party. The film then becomes a road trip comedy as Tip and Oh travel to Paris to try to fix Oh’s mistake and find Tip’s Mom.
We come to expect decent animation from Dreamworks, and Home is about par in comparison to other Dreamworks pictures that get a wide release (an admittedly high standard). However, the character design for the Boovs is actually super cute. It’s one of the few aspects of the film that appears to be genuinely inspired.
Despite the large potential created by the interesting character design, most of the film is wasted on cheap gags. Home pales in comparison to other “Welcome to America”-type kids movies like Paddington because Paddington understands its main character and will create natural situations to communicate who the character is to the audience. You understand exactly who Oh is after spending about a minute with him, and you don’t learn anything new as he attempts to resolve the conflict. All of the situations he is a part of develop a random sight gag instead of developing him as a character. The movie also stops at several instances in the film to promote new Rihanna music.
Steve Martin does a great job with Captain Smek, but his role is cut to a supporting one here. The films picks up significantly whenever he is on screen, but the rest of the film just can’t keep up. Jim Parsons is mostly charming as the voice of Oh, but his character needs a good foil that Tip just can’t provide. Rihanna isn’t very good as Tip, but her character isn’t very well written either. Keep in mind that Rihanna is a singer, not an actor, and appears to be trying her best, but it just doesn’t work that well.
For the most part, Home is harmless. But it plays things really safe. You’ve seen this movie before. Kids are young though, so it’ll be exciting and new for them. If you buy it for a kid on DVD they’ll probably watch it an insane amount of times and then force you to buy them a Boov plush toy for $23.78, but this movie could be replaced with any number of other mediocre kids films that would hit the same story beats and serve the same purpose. All of which involve you buying things. 5/10.