Screened Out – Home

By : Stephen Miller
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Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez

Home isn’t where the heart is. It’s a simple animated kiddie flick filled with sight gags and plastic colors.

If you borrow ideas from E.T., you better at least try to live up to its charm and depth. If you have Earth threatened by total destruction, there should be a heap of tension, right? Home has none of this. It’s just light, fast, inoffensive fun aimed squarely at small children. Even with that easy goal, not all of the goofy jokes land. This movie avoids conflict in the pursuit of sight gags.

This movie is from the studio that made the exquisite How to Train Your Dragon films. Comparatively, Home is a colorful, quick, and simplistic letdown.

Parsons (a gay ally) is best known for his nerd-tastic character Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. Here, he voices the alien character Oh, as in “Oh, no,” and “Oh, %$#@!.” These are typical expressions when he’s around. (It reminded me of the old Irish joke where the kid thinks his name is “Jesus Christ.”) Based on Parson’s work – even with this rudimentary stuff – the actor should be doing more animated films in the future.

Jim Parsons, an out gay ally, deserves more and better animated parts than this.

Jim Parsons, an out gay ally, deserves more and better animated parts than this.

Oh is one of the peace-loving Boov; their race is under attack from the Gorg. Instead of fighting, the conflict-averse Boov always flee, borrowing planet after planet. Now, the Boov plan to move to Earth. In order to give them room in the good areas, they’re vacuuming up all the humans and putting them in colorful housing developments in the Australian outback.

Gratuity Tip (interestingly voiced by Rihanna) escaped the first sweep, but her mother (Lopez) was taken. Tip takes her awesome cat and commandeering her mom’s car. When she runs into Oh, he’s just accidentally sent an email blast to the universe – and the Gorg. Together, they hope they can fix their individual problems.

It’s an alien-and-kid buddy flick, replete with a flying car powered by a sugary slushie machine. The whole flick is powered by sugar.

Everything – from Parson’s fractured English to the chubbiness of the animation – is made for smaller brains. The colors look like Willy Wonka’s factory blew up. The themes are easily digestible – one is pro-immigration, another is anti-materialistic. Martin is the one bright spot, as the crazed Boov leader. Except for a pretty ballad called “Feel the Light,” Lopez is underutilized.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

There’s energy here, with quick cuts and edits and lots of neon. A few of the visuals – like the human-sucking spaceship – are nifty. The movie also doesn’t overstay its welcome.

What is most missing here is a fully realized story. They could’ve said more about respecting cultural differences and making room for others. Instead we get cat jokes, goofy dances, and potty humor. This stuff is great for four-year-olds, but it makes everyone else want to forego the Cineplex for…well… home.

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