‘Home’ Review: Artificially flavored junk
With its brazen mix of glossy animation and various jokes, Tim Johnson’s Home is sure to keep the kids quiet with giddy joy. The adults in the audience will most likely be left pondering as to what kind of sorcery the cartoon is practicing to be able keep their little ones at bay.
Home is clearly crafted to target children. Its preoccupation with sugar (a flying car that is fueled by slushie, aliens that look like something that would pop out of a Willy Wonka candy box) is evidence of what it aspires to be, which apparently is, quite simply, junk.
Sure, the cartoon has its fair share of lessons to be learned. That, however, seems to be just part of the formula the film’s creators have to follow so that their product will be palatable to paying families. Home, for the most part, is the cinematic equivalent of a baby pacifier.
Playing it safe
Home starts with an invasion of Earth that’s been delectably fashioned to look rather tame and harmless, with humans relocated to packets of suburban homes in the middle of nowhere so that the rest of the world can serve as hiding places for the literally spineless aliens.
Tip (voiced by pop singer Rihanna), an adventurous girl who has spent her entire life relocating from one home to another, is left alone in the middle of New York City, desperately finding ways to reach her mother who has been transported along with the rest of the world’s population to an undisclosed location.
She is left with no choice but to team up with Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons, who repeats the monotonous garble of his character in Big Bang Theory but without the amusing air of superiority), an alien who is being chased for absent-mindedly sending an invite to his alien race’s feared nemesis.
The premise of Home is actually one that is ripe for some delicious irony. It has all the cornerstones of a worthwhile sci-fi, with some imagery that if seen outside the cartoon’s too-adorable scope has the potential to be quite powerful. Take for example how the cartoon gives a glimpse as to how the world’s entire human population can fit into a small parcel of land, leaving the rest of the planet safe from human abuses.
But of course, Home has to play it safe. It does not strive to make statements about human wastefulness and all those other things pertinent today. Its only ambition is to be momentarily passable, and that is why it focuses on Tip and Oh’s relationship.
All for consumerism
The unlikely friendship between Tip and Oh that is played to be the shallow soul of Home however feels like an overplayed gimmick. Johnson and his troop of writers seem to acknowledge this with unembarrassed brashness, mapping the not-so-odd couple’s journey from erstwhile foes to best friends-for-life with all the predictability any hack who’s seen everything in between Lilo & Stitch (2002) and Big Hero 6 (2014) can muster.
The false drama is tired. The comedy is run-of-the-mill. The cutesy aesthetics is all designed to land for the film an entire range of products, from fast food meals to stuffed toys, to keep the money flowing. Home summarizes the creative bankruptcy of most of Hollywood’s animation model, how all of its functions are masterminded to propagate blanket consumerism amongst the most gullible of the moneyed market, which are the kids.
If only Home reached out a little bit further. If only it afforded its candy-colored images with a sliver of darkness and shadow. If only it tamed its annoying sweetness with a pinch of salt, or spice, or poison. If only it dared more with subversion, the way a lot of its more successful predecessors like Shrek (2001) or How to Train Your Dragon (2010) did.
So Home is clearly a letdown. After a couple more movies of the same ilk, the cartoon and its gelatinous hero with a supposedly unforgettable name are bound to be forgotten.
Take it as it is. Enjoy the empty spectacle. Laugh at the corny jokes. There is surely enough razzle-dazzle to keep the children and the childish steadfastly entertained. There is also enough sitcom-level humor to cause a medley or two of earned chuckles.
At the end of the day, the cartoon’s just as valuable as a Christmas candy cane on an ordinary weekday. In other words, it’s only good for the sugar rush. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema. Profile photo by Fatcat Studios