From The Morton Blog

New on Blu-ray: Dreamworks' Home (2015)

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Dreamworks' animated Home coasted to a worldwide box office haul of $386 million despite generally lukewarm reviews. The appeal of its primary voice cast, including Jim Parsons (Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory), singer Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Steve Martin, helped a great deal in critic-proofing the slight sci-fi comedy. Way back in 1998, director Tim Johnson helped put Dreamworks on the animation map with the critical and box office hit Antz. Besides the medium itself and a single-word title, that film and Home have little in common. Rather than thoughtfulness, Home stuffs its ersatz emotion down viewers' throats until it feels a little sickly. It also borrows too much from better films like Disney's Lilo and Stich to ever really find its own identity.

The thing is, however, Home doesn't really demand to be taken seriously. On its surface, the story of an alien race invading Earth and (non-violently) occupying the planet is a potentially serious one. But when the key alien among the so-called Boov is the lovably naive Oh (Parsons), things are bound to remain fairly cuddly. Oh, palling around his human pal Tip (Rihanna), decides to throw the biggest house party on Earth (literally) and mistakenly invites the Boov's mortal enemy, the Gorg. At that point, any semi-serious overtures are completely brushed aside to make room for as much comedic action as possible. Parsons' Oh is basically an animated Sheldon (and frankly the act is beginning to wear quite thin). Steve Martin voices the Boov commander in chief, Captain Smek. Speaking of which, I wonder how the overall box office might've been affected had Dreamworks retained the source book The True Meaning of Smekday (which was written by Adam Rex).

Besides the easygoing laughs that help prop up a predictable story, Home essentially distinguished by its animated razzle dazzle. The visual invention is fun to watch on its own. Honestly the DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround mix is arguably a case of overkill, considering Home’s rather modest audio aspirations. But it is, nonetheless, an impressive bombardment of sound.

Lots of kid-friendly bonus features help make Home a disc that's likely to find its way into the BD player quite regularly. Most of these are brief, including a few music-based pieces like a video for Jennifer Lopez's "Feel the Light." Instead of adding extra content, "Oh's Boovy Jukebox" simply jumps directly to the film's music-oriented sequences. Of more interest is a selection of deleted scenes (with a director's introduction; collectively they run about 25 minutes). The "Be an Artist!" section contains some 20 minutes of character-drawing instruction. Possibly most fun are the "Short Boovies," a trio of shorts that expand a bit on our knowledge of the alien species known as the Boov. These animated bits only add up to a about ten minutes, but it's a fair bet that kids will return to them more often than some of the other odds and ends scattered throughout the extras.

The Blu-ray package also includes a standard DVD and a Digital Copy. Home is also available in a Blu-ray 3D edition. As kid flicks go, you could do a lot worse. It's not likely to stand the test of time to become a true family classic, but the replay value should be high for youngsters.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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