There's much to recommend Home, DreamWorks' animated adventure about a winsome polychrome alien trying to make a place for himself on Earth, but only because it offers so many vague teachable moments that you're bound to find something you approve of. Hoping to expose your tot to jumbled, diffuse anti-gentrification, anti-colonialist, anti-fascist messages? Home's got 'em. But if director Tim Johnson -- adapting Adam Rex's book The True Meaning of Smekday -- can't do much with the story's confused, if well-intentioned, agenda, at least he's got some charming, vivid characters to work with.
Chief among them is Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (voiced by Rihanna), a little girl from Barbados who, after struggling to make a new home with her mom in an American city that looks something like Philadelphia, is displaced yet again when a bunch of cute, tubby aliens invade Earth and corral its humans into cheerful-looking but obviously undesirable housing projects in Australia. Actually, I can't believe I just sat through a movie with that plot, though it all sounds much scarier than it is, which is part of the problem: The horror of what these little invaders -- called Boovs -- actually do is so muted, for the tykes' sake, that it hardly seems villainous at all.
Then again, we're supposed to be invested mostly in the plight of our googly-eyed Boov hero, a misfit named Oh (Jim Parsons), whose stilted English and misuse of prepositions ensure many moments of mild hilarity. If your planet has to be stolen by aliens, they may as well be adorable ones.
Tim JohnsonJim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin, Matt Jones, Dominique MonferyTom J. Astle, Matt Ember, Adam RexDreamworks