Recently, I noticed that it was exactly a hundred days until my 21st birthday- which means that although I’ve technically been an adult for a couple of years, I will now OFFICIALLY be an adult. This means a lifetime of debt and misery awaits, but mainly, it means that I should start to feel ashamed at watching kids movies in my old age. I set myself a challenge to watch a hundred kids movies from my childhood in the hundred days leading up to my birthday, which I’ve put on hiatus a mere thirteen days into the challenge (I’ll resume the challenge later, I just realised that no 20 year old should be sat watching Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius at 2am). This is mainly due to the realisation that the movies I watched as a child are (for the most part) awful now- something that may be bad in killing my happy memories, but makes me feel good whenever I see a terrible kids film that children clearly enjoy, that they are going to think is turgid bullshit when they see it as an adult. I watched Home because my younger brother dragged me to see it; it is annoyingly pedestrian, yet I am quite happy in the knowledge that the kids who are enjoying it now will be thinking on my wavelength if they encounter this movie again in the future.
The movie set a brand new record for me- the quickest time any movie has taken to fully annoy me. This was set about 30 seconds into the actual film, as Oh, the annoying alien thing voiced by annoying human thing Jim Parsons, was giving an opening monologue about how it was “best day ever” in pidgin English that had me desperate for the end credits to begin rolling. I thought using a bad grasp of the English language as a source of comedy was outlawed in this post-Jar Jar world, but Home proved otherwise. The BOOV, the alien race that Oh is a part of, are about to invade earth and make it their new colony (as they are running away from their enemy), moving all the humans on the planet to Australia. For a reason that is never given, they don’t manage to move Tip, a teenage girl voiced by Rihanna, despite moving every fucker else on the planet, including her mum (played by Jennifer Lopez) who is sat right next to her when the invasion happens. Some of the BOOV move in to her apartment block, including Oh, who every other character realises is the annoying cunt everybody in the audience can see he is. To try and get friends, he sends everybody invites to a house party- but the email accidentally gets sent to the BOOV’s enemy, so he needs to go on the run to Paris (?) to stop the email from arriving across the galaxy. Tip sees Oh and uses him in order to get a ride to Australia in a flying car powered by a fucking slushy machine. Christ alive, writing a plot synopsis has only just made me realised how convoluted this how debacle is.
Home is a Dreamworks animation feature- and the thing that sets Dreamworks apart from all other animation studios is how inconsistent their output is. After last year’s thrillingly epic How to Train Your Dragon 2, there was some criticism that the ever-increasing army of dragons was just an excuse to manufacture more kids toys. Yet Home seems to have been made for merchandise purposes; directly before the movie, there was an advert telling me where to buy Home merchandise, something that I’ve never seen happen before, but encourage to happen more often, as long as it’s not in front of kids movies (“Liked Antichrist? Why not buy the pair of scissors used in the movie?”). It’s not just cuddly toys though- Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez have made an entire soundtrack for the album, which is problematic due to scenes in which characters voiced by them are listening to songs sung by them. If they have the exact same speaking voice, wouldn’t these characters be creeped out at listening to songs by artists with the exact same singing voice as them? Are Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez successful pop stars in the Home universe? Or are these home recordings that the characters produced of themselves singing that they just listen to on repeat because they are egotistical and don’t own any music that they didn’t personally record? I was spending much of Home overthinking these little details as the film itself isn’t funny or emotionally involving enough to sustain my interest.
Another thing that sets Dreamworks apart from other studios is the inconsistency of the animation quality. For example, you could recognise a Pixar or an Aardman film based on a single frame, yet Dreamworks are harder to pin down. The aforementioned Dragons 2 was beautiful and rich in detail; Home seems to be animated in the brightest colours possible to exclusively catch the interests of young children. I counted two parts of animation that I thought were not just beautifully designed but fully realistic- one was a shot of bubble wrap, the other was a shot of water that was surrounding Oh as he went for a swim in the Atlantic ocean. If I’m having to strain my eyes to recognise anything approaching quality animation, you know there is a problem with the film itself.
Home isn’t a bad film, just a forgettable one- it only wants to be memorable enough to make your kids want merchandise once the credits start rolling. It’s annoying- but then again, if it’s nothing more than an advert for merchandise designed to capture the attention of kids and nothing more, of course it’s going to be annoying.