HOME (U, 94 mins) Animation/Sci-Fi/Comedy/Action. Featuring the voices of Rihanna, Jim Parsons, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin, Matt Jones. Director: Tim Johnson.
Released: March 20 (UK & Ireland)
Humans and cute aliens unite to save Earth in Tim Johnson’s entertaining but shamelessly contrived computer-animated adventure.
The new dog performing old tricks on the DreamWorks block, which previously housed Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, lacks the belly laughs and heart-breaking emotion of those films, but merrily rehashes elements from all three.
Thus the extra-terrestrial invaders discover they like to wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care to our music and the central duo discovers that self-sacrifice is an important part of friendship.
Johnson’s film has some solid gags and the colour palette is bright, although there are disappointingly few visual tricks up the animators’ sleeves to justify the increased ticket price for the 3D version.
In a neat piece of short-hand, the invaders turn out to be the extra-terrestrial equivalent of mood rings, changing colour to reflect their emotional state: yellow for fear, pink for love, red for anger, blue for sadness and green for dishonesty.
It’s a merchandiser’s dream and every parent’s nightmare: children begging for the same stuffed toy in multiple shades.
An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of power-hungry Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home.
The Boov round up the humans and relocate the entire species to Australia.
Back in America, a resourceful 11-year-old girl called Tip (Rihanna), whose mother (Jennifer Lopez) was abducted from their apartment, evades capture and goes on the run with her rotund pet cat.
She encounters a fugitive Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons), who has accidentally sent an email invitation to his “warming of house party” to everyone in the galaxy, including the Boov’s sworn enemy, the Gorg.
Tip and Oh are poles apart: she is spunky and brave, while he turns tail at the first sign of peril.
“If probability falls below 50%, the Boov give up,” explains Oh.
Working together, they forge a touching friendship and Tip helps her extra-terrestrial chum to embrace his flaws.
Based on the children’s book The True Meaning Of Smekday by Adam Rex, Home ticks all of the boxes, but does so without any obvious verve, originality or sense of urgency.
Parsons riffs on his nerdy character in The Big Bang Theory, while Rihanna lends her distinctive Barbadian tones to the plucky, pint-sized heroine.
She also has two songs on the soundtrack including the dance anthem Only Girl (In The World), which provides moments of unnecessary distraction as Tip talks over the top of the music.
At one point during the chase, Oh turns to Tip and screams, “This is not a sustainable friendship model.”
Johnson makes it work for 94 minutes, but only just.