In Home, the latest adventure from DreamWorks Animation, the misfit alien at the center of the movie is called Oh. That’s because “Oh” is everyone’s reaction when this character (voiced by Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory) makes one of his desperate, over-the-top attempts to fit in and make friends with humans.
By the end of the film, “Oh” is supposed to have turned into something positive. But unfortunately, Home is an earnest exercise that falls flat, despite the best of intentions.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The film, adapted from Adam Rex’s beloved kids book The True Meaning of Smekday, tells the story of an isolated alien race — the Boov — whose members stage elaborate, friendly takeovers of planets throughout the galaxy while on the run from an intergalactic enemy.
Led by the cowardly, arrogant Captain Smek (Steve Martin), the Boov are six-legged creatures with wide-set eyes and pig-tail ears, who change skin colors with their moods and speak in a bizarre, jumbled version of English.
For the most part, the Boov are an ornery bunch who keep to themselves. Oh is an exception. After their invasion of Earth, all humans are forcibly moved to a new settlement so the aliens can occupy their homes. Oh sets the plot in motion by accidentally emailing a party invitation to the entire galaxy, including the enemy.
Suddenly a fugitive from his own people, Oh eventually teams up with Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, (Rihanna), a 12-year-old girl who got separated from her mother, Lucy (Jennifer Lopez). Along with Tip’s cat (named Pig), they set off in a flying car, powered by slushie machines, to find Lucy.
Director Tim Johnson (Antz) has brought together so many appealing elements — the source material, the voice cast and a bouncy Rihanna-heavy soundtrack — that it’s hard to believe Home lands with such a thud.
Most of the problems are with Oh, a sort of hybrid of Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars. Oh is really annoying. He might be earnest and learn a few lessons, but with his manic, destructive energy and deadly one-liners (“my hands are in the air like I just do not care”), he is not someone you’d want to be around, even for an hour and a half.
While Tip has the makings of a compelling, spirited character, Rihanna’s subdued voice-acting leaves a lot to be desired. As the buffoonish Boov leader, Steve Martin has a few fun riffs, but seems to stick to the dull script most of the time.
Visually, the world of “Home” looks synthetic, even in 3-D.
Voices: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez.
Director: Tim Johnson.
Screenwriters: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember.
A DreamWorks Animation release. Running time: 94 minutes. Mild action peril. Playing at area theaters.