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'Home' aptly named — it's a good reminder to stay there

Rick Bentley
The Fresno Bee

The combination of a feeble script, unnecessary music montages, unlikable characters and so-so animation leave "Home" a close encounter of the dull kind. E.T. would use his call to phone the theater to get his money back.

Even those who put the advertising together for this movie don't have a clear idea what's happening. The film's being pushed as the tale of Tip (Rihanna), a young girl who is trying to find her home. Actually, she knows exactly where he home is, it's just that her mother (Jennifer Lopez) has been abducted by an alien species of cowards (known as the Boov) who have selected Earth as their most recent hiding spot from the militaristic alien race chasing them.

Oh (Jim Parsons) is a good-hearted alien who keeps making mistakes. His latest may lead his race to doom. He puts impending death and destruction aside to help Tip find her mother.

This movie's problems start with the screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, based on the book "The True Meaning of Smekday," by Adam Rex. The story is so simple there's little for the characters to do. That leads to long passages of Oh and Tip cruising in her hover car as they trek to Australia where all of the world's population has been stored.

This journey would have been entertaining if the jokes weren't so lame. An example: Oh saying he's throwing his arms in the air like he just don't care after hearing some music. That gag might have been funny 20 years ago.

It also might have been funny if it wasn't Parsons supplying the voice. He's done such a masterful job playing the socially awkward Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory" that his voice work for Oh just sounds like a recording of the TV show.

"Home" has enough material to be a children's book but stretching it to feature-film length creates long gaps and holes. Those are filled with a lengthy soundtrack that includes tunes by Rihanna. Her voice work isn't bad but not distinct enough to make the movie memorable.

Even the little plot there is has major problems. It's revealed that the reason the cowardly aliens are being chased was the result of an event during a peace negotiation. If there wasn't a problem until those negotiations, then why were they having peace talks?

Then there are the alien creatures. The success of "Despicable Me" and the adorable Minions is prompting animators to come up with their own creature hordes designed to be loveable. These aren't. They are clunky and even a little creepy.

Everything about "Home" feels like a retread of a better science fiction movie. Even the animation lacks any kind of pop. The big problem is that the alien design is so uninspired that all the animators could do was have the Boov change colors to show their emotions. What is the color of boredom?


Grade: D

Rated PG for mild thematic elements

Running time: 93 minutes