Our entry point is Oh (Jim Parsons), an endearingly clumsy misfit who heads over to Earth with an alien race called the Boov, led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin). The Boov plan on taking over the planet and moving all of the human inhabitants to a remote area where they can live. Their intentions are good, if somewhat misjudged – but when Oh accidentally sends a party invitation to the entire galaxy, the nefarious enemy get wind of their whereabouts, putting Earth in great danger. Amongst his own beings, Oh becomes something of an enemy and a fugitive himself – but manages to befriend the courageous teenage girl Tip (Rihanna) who has somehow managed to avoid capture, and desperate to be reunited with her mother.
While Pixar have a real habit of striking that perfect balance between adventure and pathos, Dreamworks’ productions tend to thrive predominantly in the former, and Home is no different, making for a film that is difficult to emotionally invest in. But the comedy is consistent and there are a handful of hilarious moments in this irreverent, playful endeavour, most of which derive from how pathetic the Boov are. They aren’t a heroic species, they spend all of their time running away from danger and problems, and they become something of an underdog, which endears the viewer to them, with jokes deriving from the inefficiencies (similarly to how The Lego Movie managed).
Yet given the nature of this narrative, Johnson is evidently striving to have an emotional impact, and yet never truly succeeds. The tale of two social outcasts becoming friends has some potential in it, but there is a palpable lack of depth to their relationship. They want to make friends to avoid loneliness, but there’s never truly any chemistry or spark between them – whereas it’s that very dynamic between the likes of Carl and Russell in Up or between Wall-E and Eve – it’s what defines the titles and provides that emotional core, enriching the experience accordingly.
Nonetheless, both Parsons and Rihanna provide impressive vocal performances, with Parsons in particular bringing a lot of energy and comic nous to the role, and much like with The Big Bang Theory, you believe in his vulnerability and endearing naivety. Though in some ways it’s almost too distinguishable a voice, which can take the viewer out of the moment. While as for playing Rihanna songs (plural) in this feature, it does come across as being a tad self-indulgent.