2015, PG, 94 min. Directed by Tim Johnson. Voices by Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 27, 2015

You won’t need any ruby slippers to find your way home from this new animated film from DreamWorks. Your everyday kicks will get you there just fine because Home follows a well-worn path that needs no magic or road markers to reach the finish line. If overly familiar and uninspired, Home is nevertheless agreeable, especially for young viewers who haven’t been down this road countless times.

The characters in Home learn that individuality isn’t necessarily a bad thing (a bit of advice the filmmakers might have taken to heart), and that friendship can overcome the differences between people (or people and aliens). The Boov are a race of timid aliens who flee to another planet every time their well-being is threatened. Their supremely goofy leader Captain Smek (voiced by Martin) has decided that the Boov will next occupy Earth in an effort to sidestep their longtime enemies, the Gorg. Oh (Parsons) is a misfit whose friendliness and sociability run counter to Boov customs, and is therefore ostracized. Tip (Rihanna) is a young girl who, along with her cat named Pig, has escaped benign exportation to Australia, along with all the other indigenous humans, while she waits for her mother (Lopez) to return. But then she’s forced to escape from her hideout and reluctantly teams up with Oh, despite his peculiarities, because he can transform an automobile into a souped-up spaceship.

As the voice of Oh, Parsons doesn’t stray far from the persona of Sheldon Cooper, the character he plays on The Big Bang Theory. Oh is a narrow-minded know-it-all, whose English grammar constructions are closer to Jar Jar Binks than Yoda. He’s baffled by the concept of pets and is aghast when his body starts twitching rhythmically in response to music. Of course, Rihanna’s Tip has more than a few tunes to offer. In addition to the pleasant surprise of seeing a woman of color playing a leading role in an animated film (two, if you count J-Lo’s secondary part), it turns out that Rihanna is quite winning as the young girl, finally finding a film role that suits her.

Although it may not be where the heart is, Home is a functional escape and shelter.

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Home, Tim Johnson

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