In Films by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Home has it all. Humour, charm, and heartfelt sentiment. Yet there’s something oddly missing in this polished buddy comedy.

The Boov are well-meaning aliens who invade Earth in an attempt to hide from their mortal enemy, the Gorg. When Earth’s inhabitants are relocated to Australia, 12 year old Gratuity, her cat and the affably harmless Oh, find themselves unlikely companions on a road trip with potentially Earth-shattering consequences.

Jim Parsons dusts off his Big Bang Theory ‘baffled-by-humanity’ persona to bring us Oh – a true individual in a society of buttoned-down conformists. Steve Martin proves that his comedy instincts are still sound, with a nuanced performance as the inept Boov leader, Captain Smek. The Boov themselves are epic fun, although parents may shudder at 94 minutes of Jar Jar Binks pigeon English. The soundtrack is poppy and upbeat. The visuals are pleasing. So why is Home such an oddly unsatisfying product?

Perhaps precisely because it was visualized more as ‘product’ than entertainment. It doesn’t help that Rihanna as Gratuity Tucci, sounds more like a … well … 27 year-old woman than a scared, lonely 12 year-old. But the real problem is that we’ve seen it all before. The Boov are little more than Minions from outer space. Gratuity channels Brave’s Princess Merida and Shrek’s Princess Fiona as the off-the-peg, sassy but not too sassy, pretty-perfect heroine. And everyone’s sort of familiar. It isn’t just the plasticised catalogue people but the body language, personalities and verbal ticks that all seem to have been round the block far too many times.

This is a film that could have really been great if the creators had been allowed to work outside the box. Animation used to be a medium that took chances – and studios such as Aardman (Shaun The Sheep The Movie), Studio Ghibli (The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya) and Laika (Boxtrolls) prove that there’s still an appetite for something beyond safe, saleable product.