'Home': Film Review

While certainly not the freshest concept in the galaxy, the caper gets a nice boost from animation newbies Rihanna and Jim Parsons.

Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez both sing and speak in this DreamWorks animated comedy adventure.

There may be no place like home, but there are a lot of places like Home, an animated adventure about the unlikely friendship between a lonely girl and an alien misfit that can’t help but feel familiar.

Revisiting aspects of a number of movies that have preceded it, starting with Lilo & Stitch, the film does manage to distinguish itself with some inspired voice casting — recruiting Rihanna and Jim Parsons, who both manage to impress in their animation debuts.

But while it will have the family audience all to itself ahead of Easter weekend, the 20th Century Fox release will likely not provide the big box-office boost DreamWorks Animation needs following the disappointing performance of Penguins of Madagascar.

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Based on the Adam Rex novel The True Meaning of Smekday (audiences got a sneak peek last year with the teaser short, Almost Home, which preceded Mr. Peabody & Sherman), the culture-clash comedy concerns the Boov — a race of aliens on the run from the evil Gorg — who take refuge on planet Earth. However, the Boov express their gratitude to the planet's current inhabitants by relocating them to candy-colored ghettos in different corners of the globe and commandeering their homes. 

Separated from her mother as the result of the invasion is Gratuity “Tip” Tucci (voiced by Rihanna), a take-control preteen who forms an uneasy alliance with Oh (Parsons), a Boov who has become a fugitive after inadvertently revealing the terrestrial location of their new hiding place.

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Director Tim Johnson (DreamWorks’ Antz) and writing team of Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (Epic), keep the action humming along and the amusing bits reasonably entertaining, but they can’t vanquish the prevailing feeling of deja vu — and that the Boov are merely Minions of a different hue.

It is refreshing, however, to see animated characters of color other than purple, blue or green.

As Tip, Rihanna shares her screen character’s Barbadian background, not to mention an empowering, can-do spirit that should please young female viewers.

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Serving as a lively foil is Parsons’ Oh, who puts his very unique spin on line delivery, even if the written Earth-speak resembles Starfire’s twisted take on the English language on Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go!

Also lending their voices, but in far more limited capacities, are Jennifer Lopez as Tip’s displaced mom and Steve Martin as the cowardly but egotistical Boovian supreme leader.

Lopez also turns up on the soundtrack, on the song “Feel the Light,” while Rihanna contributes several new tunes, including her latest single, “Dancing in the Dark.”

Production company: DreamWorks Animation
Voice cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones
Director: Tim Johnson
Screenwriters: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Producers: Suzanne Buirgy, Mireille Soria, Christopher Jenkins
Composer: Lorne Balfe and Stargate

Rated PG, 94 minutes

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