There is a radio advert for Home, Dreamworks’ latest animated feature, that announces it as ‘the movie event of the year’. Seriously, it’s right there, kicking off the audio clips without the tiniest hint of irony. No matter that the Jurassic Park series returns to screens this year after a decade and a half away. Don’t give a second thought to the fact that in 2015 James Bond is back or the The Avengers sequel is released. Don’t worry yourself with any grand ideas about two new Pixar films, the last Hunger Games movie or Star Wars: Episode freaking VII. Nope, Home – from the people who brought you The Croods, is the movie event of the year. Sorry Dreamworks marketing people but that’s like calling Sharknado the greatest film ever made about Sharks (completely ignoring the existence Deep Blue Sea of course). Nonetheless that’s how they are selling Home, as the most significant cinematic release of these twelve months. That was funny even before I saw it!
Home isn’t a bad film, it is just unremarkable and totally forgettable. It is another of those animated movies, like Surfs Up, Open Season, Brother Bear, Epic, Robots, Bolt, Turbo and Rio 2, that will entertain kids while they are watching them but are destined to be quickly lost in the mists of time.
The premise of the movie is actually initially quite intriguing, with a race of aliens benevolently invading the planet and relocating the whole of humanity to Australia, but it soon becomes predictable and obvious. The animation is great, there are some nice design ideas and will enjoy the colourful aliens and the flying car but there is little here to entertain a grown up audience. I except that I’m not the target demographic but the best family films are universal. This one isn’t.
The film almost got interesting near the end when it appeared one of the main characters had died but (spoiler) didn’t. I actually thought for a minute they’d been a little brave with the plot and it made me sit up in my chair. I know mortality in cartoon films is not unheard of, no one would give life insurance to a parental figure in the first thirty minutes of a Disney animation, but snuffing one of the protagonists would have really set the movie apart. As it is nothing does.
Still, it wasn’t a wasted trip, my daughters liked it and I picked up a second hand Bluray copy of Jaws on the way back through the High Street.
Is this one for the kids?
I’ve been pretty critical here but actually this is a perfectly entertaining film for children. It is rated U and there is nothing here to upset littleuns. Take them along if they’ve already seen Shaun the Sheep, Big Hero 6 and Paddington.
The Ripley Factor:
Family animation is one of the genres that consistently gets gender politics right. This clearly hasn’t always been the case but from The Little Mermaid onwards we’ve had a good string of positive female role models. Surprising for cartoons many of these have also been relatively flawed and realistic (relatively). They may be surrounded by magic but female characters from Ariel to Arrietty have been refreshing free of kick ass fighting skills and other typically macho characteristics.
Tip, the heroine in Home is very much of this mould. She is just a kid who hid from the relocation and is now trying to find her Mum. (This element of the story is presumably why those oh so cocksure marketers highlighted the fact that the two days of previews were the Mother’s Day weekend. The movie goes on general release on Friday 20th.)
Tip is brave and forthright, resourceful and determined. Everything a guy wants his daughters to see in a role model. Hey, maybe there was something in this film for me after all.