From the very first moments that Oh (Jim Parsons) pops up on the screen, it becomes perfectly understandable why the cute yet annoying alien elicits the name-giving response of "Oh" from all whom he encounters. Gifted with a "What were they possibly thinking?" way of speaking, Oh is sort of like Jar Jar Binks woven into Tattoo and any number of other irritating cinematic characters. Heck, at one point I even envisioned a reunion with Little Nicky. It's never really explained why Oh speaks this way, perhaps originally envisioned as his feeble attempts at understanding English, yet that doesn't jibe when one considers that none of the other aliens speak the same way.
Why? Oh, why?
But, after a while Home and the Boovs settle into their grooves and what starts off as a sort of unsettling and uneven animated experience starts to find a sense of fun, a little bit of heart, and some truly delightful vocal work from Rihanna as Gratuity Tucci, known by the name Tip, a sweet and searching young girl who is determined to find the mother who was vacuumed away from their home by the Boovs when they settled on earth and relocated all the humans to Australia seemingly without much of a fight or a complaint.
It seems inevitable, and it is inevitable, that Oh and Tip will meet. It happens when Oh makes yet another mistake, you're only allowed nine on among the Boovs, and he encounters Tip on his way fleeing out of town. The two will form an uneasy truce, Tip's motivated by Oh's ability to help her find her mother and Oh's by a desire to get back into the good graces of Boov leader Smek (Steve Martin).
In terms of animation, there is much to love about Home, a fun and creative film with the kind of fundamental humor and visuals that young children will love and parents will love watching their kids love. While I'm not convinced the film is worthy of the upcharge for 3-D visuals, Home does have some eye-popping visuals and inventiveness when it comes to the universe and some rather famous international landmarks. The story, which initially stumbles and then sort of meanders, really picks up some solid steam in the final thirty minutes as both Oh and Tip come close to accomplishing their goals and encounter the inevitable obstacles just before they get there.
Yes, I will even confess that I shed a tear at one point.
There's even a wee bit of a twist that leads to a surprisingly impactful lesson at the film's end and a tremendously satisfying closing involving Oh, Tip, Tip's mom, the Boov, and those evil Gorgs.
Director Tim Johnson's efforts here don't go for naught, but it's hard to not constantly get the feeling that everyone involved was aiming an awful lot higher than Home ever really climbs. Amongst the key vocalists, only Rihanna seems to grasp both the film's gravity and its oddball humor. I will add, as well, that it's rather refreshing to have an intelligent, non-stereotypical young African-American girl as the co-lead and she's brought wonderfully to life by Rihanna.
Home isn't going to be the best animated feature that you see in 2015, at least I hope not, but for family's looking for a warm and winning film about the importance of family this Easter weekend it's definitely one the kids will enjoy.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic