The kindest word that comes to mind when thinking about DreamWorks Animation’s Home is “undistinguished.” Unfortunately, it’s also uninteresting and uninspired — as well as tedious, noisy, obvious, annoying and often verging on a commercial for a Rihanna album. No, I’m not the target audience. I am not the right age for it, and I don’t have any small children to take to it, though I suppose I could borrow some for the occasion (I doubt that would help). But the truth is this is just so darn dull that I can’t really imagine it engaging anyone past the age of those who are easily beguiled by bright colors. Home lacks for much, but it doesn’t lack for bright colors. Neither do paint stores, nor boxes of Crayolas.
The film is all about a race of aliens called the Boov — a fairly unattractive species of purple creatures whose primary character trait seems to be cowardice. It is this that causes them to invade earth and relocate all humans to brightly colored holiday camps in Australia, where they’re kept pacified with amusement park rides and ice cream. Just how this was accomplished is on the sketchy side. Just why all those humans pretty much go gently into that great Outback is never really addressed at all. However, the Boov’s dream of avoiding their mortal enemy the Gorg is shattered when their resident intergalactic screwup, Oh (Jim Parsons), sends an email to the entire universe inviting everyone to his house-warming party. Fortunately, interstellar email is slow, so it should be a simple matter to stop Oh’s email (like old AOL, there must be an unsend function.) Problem is they don’t have his password, and Oh, realizing his error, has gone on the run.
This leads the fugitive Boov to run into the only remaining earthling not in Australia, the 12-year-old Gratuity “Tip” Tucci (as voiced by Rihanna, Tip may be the most mature sounding 12-year-old ever). Inevitably, this odd couple — along with Tip’s cat named Pig (the cuteness never stops) — team up. Tip wants to find her missing mom (Jennifer Lopez, who rates little animated screen time and only one soundtrack song). Oh wants to just get away from his Boov brethren. Of course, finding where mom has been relocated requires getting into Boov central, a task Oh undertakes because otherwise there’d be no story.
The level of humor is not great — a prime example is Oh mistaking an unflushed toilet bowl for lemonade (kids, don’t try this at home). The level of invention is not particularly better. Mostly, the film just soldiers along — hoping it’s moving fast enough that you won’t notice that there’s nothing theres, as it reaches its theoretically surprising ending. (While I wasn’t surprised, I was mightily relieved that it had ended.) Yes, the usual life lessons — family and how it’s OK to be a misfit — are part and parcel of it all, but what children’s movie are they not a part of? The whole idea of redefining what family meant was startling and refreshing in Lilo & Stitch (2002) — one of the few non-committee-made American animated films — but it’s now simply to be expected. I suppose it’s overall harmless, but it’s also pretty charmless. If I even remember it six months from now, I’ll be surprised. Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor.