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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Home, Review: Me & Oh

Home, Review: Me & Oh

DreamWorks Animation's Home is a 3D computer-animated feature film set in the future, which is based on Adam Rex's children's book, The True Meaning of Smekday. It stars Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Jim Parsons, and Steve Martin, as the voices of its main characters.

When Earth is taken over by the overly-confident Boov, an alien race on the run from its enemies, the Gorg, and in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated to other parts of the planet, while the Boov get busy efficiently reorganising the planet. They believe the humans are way behind in terms of progress as a race, and need to be upgraded.

One resourceful 12 year-old girl, Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci, (Rihanna) manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov by the name of Oh (Jim Parsons). Equally stubborn and set in their ways, these two fugitives from the Boov tribe realise there’s a lot more at stake than inter-galactic relations, as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime. She needs to find her mother Lucy (Jennifer Lopez), who has been shifted to some unknown country, and he wants to escape to Antarctica, to avoid facing the  wrath of Boov leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin).Good thing they have a flying car, that is full of surprise add-ons, thanks to the genius of Oh.

Adam Rex’s first picture book, The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, was published by 2003. His picture book Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, a collection of stories about monsters and their problems, was a New York Times Bestseller. 2007 saw the release of his first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, a post-apocalyptic-alien invasion-buddy-comedy. It was turned into a film script by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. Director Tim Johnson (Antz, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Over the Hedge) read it soon after it was published, but it took seven years to bring it to the screen.

Home plays a lot with shapes and texture. Boov are all circular and vinyl toy-doll shaped spheres, humans are designed as squares and cubes and the other alien race, the Gorg, are all pointed and triangular. In one scene towards the end, the Gorg emerging from his space-ship is a revelation. A suspended in air, and later inverted, Eiffel Tower makes interesting viewing, as does the entire gravity reversal episode. Jokes vary, from the punchy to the flat, though the obtuse English spoken by Oh is cheap but irresistible humour. In overview, there are far too many off-colour lines for comfort. Jim Parsons has a ball, voicing the alien Oh, grappling with 'incomprehensible and irrational' human behaviour (originally, he was named, believe it or not, JLo!), while Rihanna strikes sympathy in her ‘lost girl with a heart of gold’ persona.

Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones (Kyle, the Boov in hot pursuit of the fugitives) and Brian Stepanek (Gorg Commander) acquit themselves well. Steve Martin as the cowardly, witty, ruthless and bumbling Captain Smek, is…what else…a scene-stealer! Quoting Johnson, “I was in my late teens in Chicago, sitting in the last row in the back of Chicago Stadium, watching a guy in a white suit with balloon animals tucked around his ears. Those were the great early heady days of his stand-up career. All these years later, working with him as this incredible collaborator…my career has taken me to some strange places but I never thought it would take me there.”

In conclusion, Home takes a micro look macro issues, and rides several vehicles at the same time. (Seriously, there is a huge array of transport modes on display, from cars to gargantuan space-ships, to bubble discs). When goings-on become too serious for young audiences, it brings in crude comedy, to soften the blow. It is different enough from other films in this genre to merit a viewing, but you wish certain tracks had been omitted and others better developed. There are many occasions when you feel the film is trying to over-feed you.

Rating: **1/2



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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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