Home Tim Johnson

Home Tim Johnson
"Today is best day ever," our alien hero Oh declares at the outset of the slight, derivative but occasionally amusing animated comedy Home. Oh's tendency to speak in this cutesy (and eventually grating) manner that omits or rearranges words here and there sets the tone for a film aimed directly at younger kids who may get a kick out of the vibrant colours (even in 3-D, surprisingly) and silly humour, but whose sweet and saccharine leanings will likely leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone with more refined palates.

The reason Oh (Jim Parsons) is so excited is that it's moving day for the Boov, a clan of extraterrestrials led by the blustery Captain Smek (Steve Martin) who have been once again forced to flee their home planet to avoid their nemeses, the Gorg. Setting their sights this time on Earth, the Boov arrive and immediately ship all humans off to what's essentially a prison disguised as a fun park in Australia.

The Boov's relocation is going smoothly until Oh makes another in a long string of blunders by sending out an invite for a party at his new apartment to the entire universe, including the Gorg. As he flees from authorities that want to arrest him, he happens upon a young human girl named Tip (Rihanna) who was left behind with her cat, Pig. After upgrading the car she's commandeered so that it now flies and operates on Slurpees, Oh reluctantly agrees to help her find her mother (Jennifer Lopez).

Parsons, who's sounded as if he's from another planet for practically his entire career if not at least on The Big Bang Theory, is well cast as Oh, and Martin has enough good manic moments to make you wish he were in it a little more. But with the soundtrack so loaded with songs from Rihanna and Lopez, it can't help but seem at times that this is more a marketing event for their music careers than it is a film.

While Pixar continues to churn out animation that habitually dazzles and delights (minus its misguided Cars franchise) in its ability to merge jokes for both children and adults alike with an emotionally affecting story, Dreamworks appears content to re-package familiar ideas about facing your fears and accepting differences. This one may be based on a popular children's book, but the resulting adaptation comes off as anything but novel.