Four out of the last five years, Jim Parsons has won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, besting the likes of Steve Carell, Larry David, Louis C.K., Don Cheadle, William H. Macy and Ricky Gervais.
No offense to Mr. Parsons and the perfectly serviceable “The Big Bang Theory,” but that’s ridiculous. (The only thing more ludicrous is Jon Cryer winning the 2011-12 Emmy for his whiny overacting in the execrable “Two and a Half Men.”)
I know. This is a review of “Home.” An animated movie. Not a discussion of the insanely wrongheaded Emmys.
But so much of “Home” depends on whether you find Jim Parsons, in his comic roles, to be a genius or a likable but essentially one-note actor who recites every line with such gusto it always feels like a performance and never as if he’s actually inhabiting a character, whether it’s Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory” or a wide-eyed, insanely eager alien named Oh who has a Yoda-esque way of expressing himself in “Home.”
For me, a little Parsons goes a long way. His character of Oh is meant to be a modern-day E.T., so lovable and so huggable your kids will want to take him home (or at least persuade you to buy some Oh merchandise), but halfway through the movie, I was hoping this particular extraterrestrial would phone home — for an interplanetary Uber ride out of here.
Oh is a member of a race of aliens called Boovs. He is called Oh because every time other Boovs see him, they say, “Oh,” as in, “Oh, not him.” That’s because Oh is a relentlessly cheerful little Boov, so desperate to be liked he almost instantly grates on your nerves.
I’m with the Boovs on that one.
The Boovs are proud of their standing as the most cowardly race in all the galaxies. Whenever the evil Gorg determines their location and heads their way, the Boovs run for their lives — this time to the planet Earth, where they relocate nearly all the humans in the world to a brightly colored amusement park in Australia. The Boovs think they’re doing the humans a favor, but let’s face it: We’re talking about an alien invasion in which the native populace is relocated to a prison camp. Fun setup for a kids’ movie!
Pop megastar Rihanna does fine work voicing Tip, a seventh-grader who was separated from her mother during the Boovian invasion and will do anything to find her. (Tip is short for “Gratuity.” Can’t say I’m a fan of that name choice. Why would a loving mother stick her daughter with that?)
Tip’s pretty awesome as girl-power role model. She’s smart, funny, sweet and fiercely determined to outmaneuver the Boovs and find her way to her mother. She despises the Boovs, but after a meet-cute with Oh in a convenience store, she’s stuck with this particular Boov. Tip needs to find her mom, and Oh is on the run from the Boovs, who blame him for inadvertently revealing their latest location to the dreaded evil Gorg. So off they go on a sweet but very predictable adventure in which they start out as enemies, until they both realize … well. Come on. That’s hardly a spoiler alert. You know how it’s going to turn out.
Directed by Tim Johnson (“Antz”) and written by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (adapting the 2007 children’s book by Adam Rex), “Home” has a bright, candy-colored look, with a few nifty 3-D effects and some wonderfully detailed “sets.”
Another fun feature: the Boovs change colors according to their moods. Their “home” color is purple, but they’ll go green or red depending on the situation, while other features shape-shift. You can visualize the thousands upon thousands of people-hours that must have gone into the process.
Steve Martin is a hoot voicing Smek, the vainglorious boob who is the leader of the Boovs. Jennifer Lopez lends her voice (and a song) to the role of Tip’s mother. The soundtrack features a number of Rihanna tunes, including the infectious single “Dancing in the Dark.”
The problem is, the story lacks originality and zest. Tip and Oh banter and bicker and bond and banter and bicker and bond. The Boovs hunt for Oh. Tip yearns for her mother. Cue another Rihanna song.
Anyone over 10 will see the plot twists a mile away. Kids will probably enjoy the goofy Boovs, the rainbows of colors and the music.
Call me a traditionalist, but I still say the world was a better place before those darn Boovs invaded.