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Home' is where the heart is

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Inoffensive animated film heavy on sentiment

There's no denying that the overall quality of animated films has increased significantly in recent years. DreamWorks has long been a big contributor to that uptick in quality not to the level of their rivals at Pixar, but certainly significant.

That isn't to say that every film has to outdo the last, however. Frankly, relatively few of these should be considered great films. But just about every one of them is good, and sometimes, good is good enough.

'Home,' the latest from DreamWorks, is the definition of good enough.

Oh (Jim Parsons, TV's 'The Big Bang Theory') is a member of a spacefaring race called the Boov. The Boov are on the run from their vicious enemies the Glorg; their entire population is on a single ship helmed by the vaunted coward Captain Smek (Steve Martin, 'The Big Year'). In their quest for a new home, they come upon the Earth.

Before you know it, the Boov have relocated all of humanity and pretty much taken over the world. But when Oh accidentally invites the Gorg to his housewarming party, he becomes a fugitive; in the course of his flight, he encounters Tip (singer Rihanna), a young girl who managed to escape the initial Boov move and is hiding out in her old apartment.

The two set out on a journey to track down Tip's mom and reunite their family. Along the way as you might expect Oh and Tip learn a lot about each other and realize that they are more alike than they might have guessed.

All that, plus they have to save the world.

This movie is packed full of bright colors, with lots of silly jokes and a just-right amount of benign potty humor. The voice performances are solid, albeit unspectacular. It's got cute moments and your standard 'worlds colliding' narrative. It wears its heart on its sleeve, too; there are a lot of big feelings being flung around the screen. Basically, 'Home' is a perfectly acceptable and reasonably entertaining way to while away 93 minutes.

Parsons is essentially playing a version of his iconic Sheldon Cooper character. Oh is the same guy, only the member of an alien race and slightly more eager for the approval of his peers. It feels perhaps a little lazy, but ultimately it works well enough here. Rihanna is not an actress. That said, she's better here than she has been in anything where we actually see her. It's not a fantastic performance, but it's fine for what it needs to be. If I were a betting man, I'd guess that Steve Martin was having some fun here his Captain Smek is a narcissistic gloryhog, oozing with false bravado.

'Home' had a couple of decent gags, but this isn't the sort of movie that's terribly worried about working on multiple levels. It seems perfectly comfortable taking square aim at the kiddie demographic and that's OK. Good, even. Filmmakers shouldn't have to apologize for not jamming in pop culture tidbits that kids will find inscrutable in hopes that the grown-ups out there will chuckle knowingly. And it isn't that 'Home' doesn't have those bits; they're just not particularly numerous or overt.

None of this is to say that 'Home' is a bad movie. It isn't. Kids will have a lot of fun at this movie the kids at my screening seemed to really dig it. And the fact that a movie of this general quality is considered second-tier elicits fits of envy from cartoon-loving 8-year-old me. 'Home' isn't great.

Again, it's certainly good enough.

[3 out of 5]

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