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Rihanna’s most dedicated fans are going to have to sit through a colorful but distractingly loud music video package to hear her latest pop tracks.
I’m kidding, sort of. Home, the latest animated effort from the creative team at DreamWorks Animation, works best as a vehicle for a series of Rihanna tunes that sporadically punctuate the noisy, busy narrative driving director Tim Johnson’s alien adventure. Johnson’s no rookie. His previous films in the animation genre include Antz, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and the suburban animal comedy Over the Hedge -- and this sampling should give you an idea of his preferred brand of energetic, borderline-manic tempo and his buoyant sense of humor.
Based on Adam Rex’s beloved children’s book “The True Meaning of Smekday,” Home introduces a hyper-nervous race of squishy purple aliens known as The Boov. Led by the mildly delusional Captain Smek (Steve Martin, wild and crazy), the Boov leapfrog from planet to planet trying to stay one step ahead of the predatory Gorgs – for a reason we’ll eventually discover. The Boov’s latest destination? Planet Earth, which means all of us pesky humans have to go.
All Boov don’t march in lock-step unity, however. Our hero, voiced by Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), is “Oh” – who earns his name because fellow Boov sigh loudly every time he’s near. Oh tries so hard to fit in, but can’t. So, when he encounters a stranded little girl named Tip (Rihanna) following the initial clean sweep of Earth’s population, he sets out to help this orphan reunite with her mother… and possibly prevent the Gorgs from finding out where the Boov are currently hiding.
Home is one of those race-from-point-to-point cartoons, where our protagonists barely have time to interact before they have to flee from the latest explosion and unearth the next clue to keep their mission in high gear. And “high gear” is where the voice cast remains for the duration of this imaginative but exhausting feature. Parsons and Martin don’t exactly shout their lines of dialogue, but “Subtle” certainly wasn’t an instruction given in the recording booth when the cast was logging audio.
Which only means that kids will be entertained by the perpetual motion of Home, while most adults in the theater (many earning bonus points for being good parents) will tune out or glance at the watch every few minutes, wondering when the credits might roll. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s OK. Pixar and the current crop of Walt Disney features may have spoiled us into believing that all animation needs to strive for a higher plane of emotional growth and majestic depth. That’s incorrect. Sometimes animation can serve as a cartoonish, loud, silly, bright and rocket-powered diversion for the youngest of audiences. To them, I say enjoy Home… but if you love your parents, allow them to bring earplugs.