Take a Drink: every time Tip hits Oh.
Take a Drink: every time Oh fucks up.
Do a Shot: every time Captain Smek misuses an article of Earth technology.
Take a Drink: every time Oh changes color.
Take a Drink: every time Rihanna happens.
By: Hawk Ripjaw (Six Pack) –
If you’re reading this, they’ve found out where I’m hiding and it’s too late for me. Please share this, so that the world will know.
My head is being forced underwater, three pairs of hands holding me down as I struggle to come up for air. After what seems like an eternity, the force on the back of my head lightens, and I am allowed to come back up, gasping and choking. There’s a slight gap in consciousness, after which I feel myself getting dragged down a cold hallway, my face still dripping. The men on either side of me say nothing.
I’m pulled into a dimly lit theater. I can see some other people there as well, a handful of adults, couples, and a few families with young children. Why are we here?
The men holding me force me into a seat and move away. A shadowy figure steps into view at the front of the small auditorium, and the lights come up to ominously illuminate the face of Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
“Greetings!” Katzenberg bellows, sweeping his arms outward and causing his midnight-blue robe to billow behind him. “You may be wondering why I have brought you here tonight. Tonight… is a pivotal moment in the history of our beloved company. We stand at the edge of a precipice that could mean the end of DreamWorks.” He glances around, clearly expecting some sort of emotional response to the idea. Sensing none, he clears his throat and continues.
“We have failed, financially, repeatedly in the past years. I do not intend for this to happen again. Around the world, I am holding many more screenings of our new film, Home.” An audible shudder ripples through the auditorium, but Katzenberg continues unfazed: “and tonight, it is my great pleasure to show it to all of you. And you will enjoy it.” A hint of menace creeps into his voice.
Someone down near the front of the auditorium stands up. “Fuck Shrek the Third! I refuse to watch whatever else you have planned!” Katzenberg eyes widen maniacally. “Very well…” He pulls a small device from his pocket, and presses a button. The man’s seat suddenly tips forward, dumping him down a trapdoor.
Katzenberg recomposes himself quickly. “Enjoy the show!” he bellows jovially, before stepping off stage left and turning down the lights.
Home introduces us to the Boov, an alien race who are self-described as being “really good at running away.” One Boov, Oh (Jim Parsons), is despised among his brethren for being an irredeemable fuck-up who thinks that everyone is his friend when in fact they all hate him.
The Boov’s latest instance of fleeing involves them attempting to escape from the evil Gorg, which leads them to Earth. Upon finding our planet, they “kindly” relocate all of Earth to Australia, which is kind of a dick move when you consider that literally everything in Australia (especially the spiders) is five times larger than it is anywhere else in the world, has an insatiable bloodlust, and is literally fueled by human fear. Human Tip (Rihanna) narrowly escapes the relocation process and remains in her town when the Boov start to move in. Meanwhile, Oh tries to send an email invitation to the Boov to his housewarming party, but accidentally sends it to the entire galaxy (including the Gorg). Having made a mistake this large, Oh goes on the lam and runs into Tip, with whom he strikes a deal to help her find her mother. He spends the next hour or so annoying the ever-living shit out of Tip and the rest of the universe.
I don’t even have to have my family threatened to admit it: DreamWorks still makes some artistically great movies. Home indeed boasts sharp visual panache here and there, and even some decent directorial decisions (even though it doesn’t come close to the How to Train Your Dragon series): towards the end of the film, as Tip is just about to finally find her mother, everything save for mother and daughter shifts into soft focus and sunlight glances beautifully off of Tip’s hair. Director Tim Johnson makes a small handful of good calls with Home, and this is one of them, even if he also chooses to use a J-Lo song for it. Check out the video for this song, and be reminded that the woman who got it on with someone half her age in an erotic thriller a couple of months ago is now part of the soundtrack for a cute kid’s movie.
Also, Steve Martin tries and mostly succeeds in using his vocal performance to drag an interesting character (kicking and screaming, albeit) out of his poorly written character.
Moments of cuteness sneak into the film, but they’re far too sparse to even be specifically memorable.
It’s difficult to accurately summarize the plot, because there really isn’t one: Aliens move all Earthlings to Australia, one girl wants to find her mother, and she’s joined by a runaway alien on her journey. That’s more or less it, lazing along like George R. R. Martin writing the next Game of Thrones. Actually, that’s a bad comparison because that guy is actually trying. And his stuff is actually good. And it’s worth the wait. What I’m saying is that this is fucking lazy. The plot of this hour and a half film would work a lot better if it was a single 30 minute episode of the Lilo & Stitch TV show (I would also be OK if it just never existed at all).
Oh might well be the most heinously annoying, infuriating animated character ever committed to film. It’s established in the opening seconds of the movie that he accepts the name “given to him by his dear friends,” who in fact are just muttering exasperatedly when Oh enters the room.
Oh’s bizarre, pidgin present tense dialect and criminal overuse of gerunds seriously evokes those old “I can haz cheezburger” memes, but those stopped being funny roughly an hour after they got popular and were not stretched over ninety fucking minutes. It’s unclear whether we’re supposed to think this is cute, but it’s definitely not. In the corner, I can hear Katzenberg giggle with delight every time Oh says something. So at least someone likes it, I guess.
This forms the crux of the movie’s main problem: Oh isn’t a social outcast because nobody understands him and his secretly redeeming qualities, he’s a social outcast because he’s a fucking moron and an annoying, unlikeable asshat. How do you sympathize with such an idiotic fuckstain? You don’t.
It’s not funny at all. While it avoids the maddening, forced pop culture references of the latter Shrek films, it still tries depressing hard to interject smaller jokes that it thinks adults would find funny (such as the functional relevance of placing the “Send All” next to the “Send” button on email), and fails spectacularly. Most of the audience agrees, with only mild chuckles cropping up here and there, though if I squint it appears that some of the DreamWorks guards are moving down the aisles with giant feathers and attempting to tickle some of the children. It doesn’t work very well, but it at least works better than the movie does to elicit laughs.
The aforementioned reunion scene is the only good use of music in the entire film. The other licensed songs come mostly courtesy of Rihanna, which is weird because Rihanna also plays Tip, and in a couple of scenes Rihanna is playing on the radio, so you get an animated girl that looks like a young Rihanna, voiced by Rihanna, listening to Rihanna.
Elsewhere, we get a painfully generic score, which distinguishes itself only once, with a sequence in which the Gorg invade Earth accompanied with a horrible dubstep-esque score.
IT ENDS WITH A FUCKING DANCE PARTY.
Mercifully, one member of our audience does not have to experience this, as the second Tip’s finger touches the Play button on her stereo, the man three rows down from me runs to the nearest guard, who pulls a taser. The man willfully drops to his knees as two more guards run to flank their comrade. The man spreads his arms and gratefully embraces three sets of fully charged taser blasts.
In typical DreamWorks fashion, the credits can’t roll until every character, including the villain, are involved in one massive contemporary pop dance party with bright colors and whatever music the kids are listening to. In this case it’s more Rihanna, which is yet another way we’re reminded that this is little more than a Rihanna vanity project.
Home isn’t a family animated comedy; it’s a sadistically unfunny assault on the human psyche, a blur of unlikable characters and forgettable jokes and animation that looks very good, but is far from DW’s best. This movie is horrible; with DreamWorks treading dangerously close to bankruptcy, Home was to be their last chance at rescuing themselves. While it appears to be a financial success, it’s a failure on nearly every other level.
The lights slowly come back up. A girl in front of me slowly chants “That movie was good!” over and over again. As I look around at the rest of the audience, they all look just as weary as I feel. Katzenberg appears at the front of our crowd. “I hope you all enjoyed my film,” he smiles warmly.
He reaches behind his back to lock the door.
“And I hope you enjoy it even more the second time!”