Home, directed by Tim Johnson, is a Dreamworks animated movie about a lonely alien who befriends an American youngster. For those movie goers not born in the 21st Century, such as myself, it feels as if this film is a homage to Spielberg, as it brings to mind the famous line uttered by the extra-terrestrial who was 3 million light years from his own planet: “ET phone home.” Unlike ET, however, this film will not be one of the ‘Greatest Films of all Time.’ In terms of its target audience, it’s okay – it definitely has enough morality and cutesy-pie to appeal to younger viewers and to lure in the paying parents, it has recognisable names voicing the characters: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, J Lo, Steve Martin.
Oh (Jim Parsons) is the name of the alien who is oblivious to the fact that the rest of the aliens loathe him. His community, the Boov, are led by the cult-leaderish-tellyvangelist-styled, self-aggrandizing Smek (Steve Martin). The Boov are “the best species at running away,” from their enemy the Gorg, and their search for another place to run to, leads them to Earth. Caregivers of little ones who worry that alien invasion scenarios in the style of ‘War of the Worlds’ may traumatise young imaginations with scary scenes, need not fear. The Boov ‘relocate’ all the earth’s inhabitants to the Australian Outback which has been turned into a theme park. So that’s good then … the loss of living in a preferred climate, the interrupted social networks, the enforced high-density living, are all issues which will fortunately not be too high on the list of topics that the pre-pubescent audience is likely to be concerned about. Instead, they will adore the bright, bubble-filled alien action scenes, and the cute way that the Boov turn from mauve to pink, blue, green or yellow, depending on their emotional state.
The Theory of Narrative, according to Todorov, suggests that a plot will follow a certain pattern – and this plot configuration is evident in Home. The equilibrium of everything being normal on the Earth and on planet Boov, is disrupted when the Boov decided to colonise Earth. The disequilibrium is compounded by Oh, when he accidentally sends the galactic coordinates of the Boov’s newly colonised planet to the scary and desctuctive Gorg. Oh recognises what he has done, and befriends Tip, a 12-year-old African American girl, to help him try to undo the mess he made when his communication went wrong. Finally, according to Todorov, the equilibrium is restored … no spoilers as to how this actually happens – you’ll have to watch the film to find out!
If you enjoy watching films, you probably also like watching Emmy award-winning shows like “Big Bang Theory” – maybe you, too, have a soft spot for Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons. However, despite being favourably inclined to Parsons, listening to him voicing the character of Oh was not a satisfying experience. It’s like witnessing Sheldon’s ego shapeshifting into a gelatinous mass of amethyst “id” (as Uncle Freud might say.) Nevertheless, I suspect that the younger target audience will enjoy the performance that Parsons gives: the play on words and the slightly silly syntax will appeal, for example Tip says, “What did you do to my car?” and Oh replies, “It should to hover much better now.”
The film’s blurb says that “being different and making mistakes is all part of being human” and this, ultimately, is the moral that the film conveys. It’s so overt, and so well-worn and tired, but to many younger viewers the predictable triumph of good over evil and the elevation of the outsider to ‘most favourite’ person status, is reassuring and welcome. For adult viewers, the music is pleasant, the one-liners are satisfying, and the quality of the animation is superb. You’re unlikely to hate it, but neither will it leave you feeling ‘in the zone’. Your under-twelve niece, nephew, son or daughter are unlikely to want to “Let it go”!