directed by Tim Johnson
(DreamWorks, 2015)

Cinematic Earth has been invaded many times. Never has it had to deal with aliens so annoyingly adorable, as though the planet had been invaded by a species like a cross between a dwarf and a Muppet. The Boov -- yes, that's their name -- have taken over the world and placed all humans in Australia, in a replica of a village straight out of a Disney princess fantasy kingdom set, while they take the rest of the planet for themselves. This is because they are on the run from another, nastier, more fatally inclined alien species.

When that species does find out where the Boov are hiding, 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci, her cat named Pig, and a renegade alien named Oh set off in an attempt to save the world.

The opening sequence features the shortest alien takeover on record. Gratuity (Rihanna) is one of the few humans who manage to avoid the relocation program. Determined to be reunited with her mother (Jennifer Lopez), who disappeared on the day of the invasion, Gratuity sets off with her cat and an alien, Oh (Jim Parsons), the aforementioned renegade. It seems that in the celebration following the successful takeover of Earth, Oh accidentally invited the Boov's mortal enemy, the Gorg, to his housewarming party, resulting in another, far less friendly takeover. Oh is on the run from the angrier sections of his society (read: avoiding capture) while Gratuity is in search of her mother, leaving them both in the precarious position of having to trust one another in order to survive.

As a movie Home has everything: humor, adventure, a bond of friendship forged between two unusual individuals, and of course some social commentary, with references to racism, ethnocentrism and colonialism. First and foremost, though, it has humor. It's a cross-species buddy flick about a headstrong girl and a timid, no-social-skills nerd of an alien who set out in a car pimped up with alien tech, courtesy of Oh. Along the way to the human camp, they take on angry mobs of fellow aliens, robots and humans who hamper them in their ultimate save-the-world goal.

Oh is a pretty adorable, virtually impossible to dislike geek whose earnestness and deep need to be loved makes him desperately helpful. He just wants to be accepted, whereas Gratuity somewhat treasures her misfit status. Their strange alliance/evolving friendship is the heart of the story. There are enough pratfalls to help them form the kind of bond that overcomes prejudice and resentment, save the world and reunite families. The swift pacing never lets up and while there is cuteness and sentimentality there is also a serious message about overcoming barriers and misunderstandings. Home delivers what it's striving for and that's what makes it so enjoyable.

review by
Mary Harvey

22 August 2015

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