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Your movie is bad and you should feel bad

dir: Tim Johnson

2015

The wholesale destruction of the Earth never looked so cute.

If ever you wanted to watch a cutesy version of global genocide, Home is the animated kids movie for you.

Let’s be honest about this: sure, the whole flick fixates on an alien called Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) and a human called Tip (voiced by pop star Rihanna), but in the background of this whole story, Earth has pretty much been destroyed through alien invasion. The remaining humans have all been forcibly relocated to a white picket suburban ghetto in outback Australia. One human remains on the outside, trying to rescue her mother. Hilarity doesn’t ensue.

The aliens don’t do any of this stuff maliciously, or sadistically. They very humanely abduct all humans without too much violence and deposit them in their concentration camp without harming a hair on their pretty heads. To this vaguely octopus-like species, we’re not seen as being any more advanced than dogs. With their superior technology and scientific advancement, it’s seen as less Manifest Destiny and more like an average day at work.

Somehow, the least plausible aspect of this whole wildly animated but staid and dull flick is that Americans, that nation where there are more people with guns than college degrees, would go gently into the Australian outback without killing legions of Boov (the species of intergalactic colonialists) with their many and varied weapons of choice.

I just don’t buy it. Nor do I buy that they’d just happily stay there watching tv and mowing their lawns. Plus, there were 7 billion people on the planet before. Only seems like there are a few hundred now.

So much for being benevolent intergalactic overlords. The Boov are fleeing from some other alien menace called the Gorg who’s been pursuing them relentlessly and destroying whatever planet they colonise (no mention being made of what happened to the people of those other planets either). Needless to say, Earth is now in the crosshairs.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it? Well, thankfully, or whatever the opposite of thankfully is, the film doubles down on the dubious charms of Jim Parsons and the frankly bewildering decision to have Rihanna provide a spoken voice and makes the flick entirely about Oh talking constantly in charmingly obtuse ways about stuff he misunderstands.

You know, kinda exactly like what he does on Big Bang Theory.

I’m not here to talk down a different tv show, one I’ve only ever watched very rarely and even more sporadically. I know it exists; I know that Parsons is one of the best recompensed actors on tv, and I know that he’s become a strangely uniting poster child for people with Asperger’s or on the spectrum. He’s also become the epitome of the kinds of nerds people used to loathe: ones who can tell you everything about some obscure machine and every episode of Star Trek but who is completely mystified by basic human interactions.

Oh is absolutely the same character, just, you know, purple and with multiple appendages, appendages the real Jim Parsons probably wishes he had because they’d increase his walking and task efficiency by 300%. It’s easy to confuse the character with the actor, but I’ve never seen / heard him be anything else other than these characters, even in interviews, so maybe that’s just who he is.

The truest thing I’ve ever seen him do is a brief cameo in the resurgent Muppets movie, during a song where a Muppet wonders whether he’s a man, or a muppet of a man. The muppet imagines himself as a human, and that human is the hollow Jim Parsons in a powder blue suit, awkwardly looking at himself in the mirror, wondering what could be if only he’d been born a real boy.

Oh talks almost constantly in that freaked out and smarmy, overly descriptive way you’d expect or demand in this flick. Rihanna delivers her dialogue as a kid in a bored voice completely at odds with the character she seems to be ‘playing’. Maybe she can sing (it’s not for me to judge), but she sure as shit can’t voice-act. It’s inexplicable that the makers would think this was a marketing bonanza. The character is a kid, but sounds and acts nothing like an actual kid.

The only reason I can think of why they thought snagging a popstar was a boon would be that they figured “Well, the Smurf movies have Katy Perry, we have to have our own poptart on the payroll or we’re doomed, DOOMED!”

How’d that work out for you? She is the diametric opposite of Jim Parsons, but that doesn’t add to their ‘chemistry’, for lack of a better term. It just makes them sound like they’re in two different movies, both of them substandard.

This is very much a formula flick, so nothing surprising happens throughout its length and breadth. All of the Boov are united in their hatred of Oh, and in their casual subjugation of the human species. They, like us, are impatient with his bullshit and all have a strong, dismissive desire to get away from him at every opportunity, but we can’t avoid him either. It is only through his friendship with Tip that he realises his species are murderous monsters, and that he has enabled their genocide of a sentient species, and that he must clumsily make amends.

He comes to appreciate the unique wonderfulness of humanity by dancing to a Rihanna song, which is some kind of weird coincidence, but also seemingly is going to be responsible for the Earth’s complete destruction when he accidentally sends an email housewarming invitation to their most hated enemy.

You know, because galactic email has that ‘email ALL enemies’ function. Maybe it does, after all, I’m just a member of an inferior race and probably can’t even use basic tools or hand gestures, so what the hell do I know?

I wouldn’t say I hated this from beginning to end, but I certainly will never sit through this again. This is certainly a flick whose appeal should squarely be only for the kids, despite the fact that the majority of the presumed audience who would seek this out as rabid fans of Sheldon shouldn’t be kids.

Of current animated flicks, it’s of the unambitious and certainly unremarkable kind. It doesn’t do anything noteworthy from a visual perspective, definitely doesn’t rewrite the history books in telling its familiar story. The romance between Rihanna and Oh will certainly live throughout the ages and be replacing Romeo and Juliet as the textbook reference people will make from now on, but there is a slight chance it could be entirely forgotten next week.

All of this harmless ‘craziness’ is apparently based on a book I haven’t read called The True Meaning of Smekday, but if the book is even only partly as dull and lifeless as the film, I would gift it only to a child I didn’t like. One with shifty eyes and a dreary disposition, who smells of sour milk and eggplant sandwiches.

No. Home didn’t kindle joyful feelings in me. My daughter did enjoy it, and had been rabid about seeing it based on the unavoidable ads at the time when it was in the cinemas, but she’s never mentioned the flick once since seeing it, and has never betrayed any interest in ever seeing it again.

That’s one of the many reasons why I’ll label this as entirely disposable piece of entertainment, the visual and auditory equivalent of a Happy Meal without the happiness or the meal. Use at your discretion.

4 times pairing a flailing histrionic with someone in a coma rarely kindles decent energy out of 10

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“Can I come into the out now?” – but I thought Jim Parsons had already come out of the closet years ago? His husband surely would have said something about it by now if he hadn’t – Home.

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