Home

 

If aliens do ever invade earth, I hope they resemble the Boovs who occupy our planet in the new film Home. The Boovs, represented in the film mainly by the enthusiastic and lovable Oh (Jim Parsons) and the bumbling leader Captain Smeg (Steve Martin), are cute and purple—or red, blue and even green, depending on what they’re feeling.

The Boovs first move upon arriving on our planet is to relocate all the humans to Happy Humanstown, allowing the Boovs free access to all the good stuff left behind. (I thought immediately of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, but I’d guess most members of the film’s target demo will not make that connection.)

The Boovs manage to transport folks by turning off gravity and, as humans rise skyward, grabbing them to go for a little ride. But one human manages to avoid the Boov move. She’s young Tip, voiced by Rihanna wih her Barbadian accent. Of course, she and Oh meet up and take off in her car.

As Oh and Tip (and Tip’s cute cat called Pig) travel the world looking for Tip’s mom (voiced by Jennifer Lopez), they come to form a solid friendship.

While Home doesn’t approach the level of a Pixar film or other Dreamworks animation efforts like the Shrek, Madagascar and Dragon movies, it’s a decent effort that should satisfy kids and parents looking for harmless animated fun. Not a must-see, but not bad.

Maybe the best thing I can say about Home is that it kept a theater full of kids attentive to what was onscreen. Often, at Saturday morning preview screenings, the young ones get restless and chatty at some point during the movie. Not that they were laughing all the way through, but the crowd checking out Home appeared to be absorbed in the film. That’s a good thing.

 

 

ParaNorman

In the wake of the first few Pixar hits, many studios and production houses took shots at making animated movies. Dreamworks succeeded with the “Shrek” films, but others had problems.

In the last 15 or so years, we have seen tons of animated films that get a lot of things right, but fall short on that one key element: a good story.

“ParaNorman,” sadly, falls into that category. Like many of its animated brethren, it has a distinctive look, amusing characters and funny lines. But the plot is just not that good.

Norman is a kid who has that sixth sense: he can see and communicate with dead people. One of the deceased citizens of his small town shares information that leads him to try to break a centuries-old witch’s curse. Getting to that result is a roundabout cinematic journey.

“ParaNorman” looks great. It was shot in stop-motion 3-D by the same studio that made 2009’s “Coraline.” But here is the big difference: “Coraline” was based on a successful Neil Gaiman novel; “ParaNorman,” is an original screenplay, written by co-director Chris Butler.

For fans of stop-motion animation (myself included), “ParaNorman” is a must-see. For everybody else, it’s a maybe. There are some parts of the movie that may frighten younger children, but you know your kids better that I do. Parental guidance is suggested.