A movie review of “Home”: This animated feature, about purple aliens invading Earth, works moderately well thanks largely to the voice talents of Jim Parsons and Steve Martin. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
Alien invasion. Cities depopulated. Paris shattered. Comedy.
Which of the above is not like the others?
“Home” makes a go of marrying an end-of-the world-as-we-know-it scenario with a (figurative) laugh track. And it works moderately well thanks largely to the voice talents of Jim Parsons and, to a lesser extent, Steve Martin. Two droll dudes who put a fair share of funny into this animated picture.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Home,’ with the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez. Directed by Tim Johnson, from a screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. 94 minutes. Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor. Several theaters.
Parsons’ character, Oh, is a sawed-off purple being belonging to a race called the Boov. They’ve come to Earth intent on conquest and have literally vacuumed our planet’s nonplused populace up into a humongous Hoover-in-the-sky and schlepped them off to … some secret location kept secret ’til quite late in the picture.
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Martin’s character is Oh’s commanding officer, Captain Smek, a gutless blusterer who embodies the first principle of Boovian life: “It’s never too late to run away.”
Parsons, he of “The Big Bang Theory,” brings a Sheldonesque sensibility to Oh, a screw-up-prone critter combining fussbudget mannerisms with big-brain-powered social ineptness. Or to put it another way, he’s highly annoying in a kind of endearing way.
On Earth, on the run from his own kind after committing the faux pas of inadvertently disclosing the Boov’s whereabouts to their archenemies, the Gorg, Oh quickly comes into contact with Tip — full name Gratuity (as in “Tip,” get it?) Tucci, a feisty seventh-grade-aged human fugitive voiced by Rihanna.
They squabble. They bond. They take to the sky in Tip’s Oh-customized car, which the Purple One has modified using components cribbed from the convenience store where they have their initial close encounter. The hot-dog cooker in the dash and the slushy-powered propulsion unit are elements that make this running, er, sorry, flying, gag the funniest in the picture.
Appropriately enough, with whimsical slushy bubbles burbling out of the tailpipe and famous Earth landmarks floating past their windshield on antigravity hemispheres — hello Eiffel Tower, salutations Statue of Liberty — the picture is a lighter-than-air, brightly colored trifle.
At times, with her songs prominent on the soundtrack, “Home” seems like an extended Rihanna music video.
Director Tim Johnson resorts a little too often to bathroom humor — Oh, that blue urinal puck? It’s not a cookie. Oh, oh dear. But Johnson keeps the picture percolating along at a lively pace. Toward the end, it does descend into gooey sentimentality and group hugs as alien and Earth girl embrace their common, er, beinghood.
The movie could have benefited from a little more Martin blustering and a bit less Parsons fussbudgeting. For an example of what I mean, I recommend a visit to YouTube to check out “Almost Home,” a four-minute short that’s a sort of “Home” prequel in which Martin-as-Smek is obviously having a ball badgering the Boov and giving free rein to his out-of-this-world egomania. Very funny stuff.