One of the great advantages of my daughter now being a much more independent small person is that I’m getting to indulge a lot more of my pre-motherhood interests again. I’ve probably seen more films and read more books in the first six months of this year than I did in the three years before that; some of that is down to the fact that we now enjoy lots of those things together.
Perhaps because I’ve been writing and tweeting more about films, the kind folks at Fox Home Entertainment sent the two of us a very cute party pack and a copy of DreamWorks’ Home to watch while we celebrated the release of the film on Digital HD.
So this weekend we got our party together and settled down to watch the story of well-meaning but disaster-prone alien Oh (The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons), whose Boov brethren have colonised Earth in one of the most genial invasions ever captured on film. Attempting to make friends, Oh accidentally sends a message which could pinpoint the Boovs’ location to their dreaded enemies, and in escaping the rage of his fellow aliens takes up with a lone girl, Tip (Rihanna) -who has accidentally been mistaken for her cat, Pig, and therefore failed to be swept up alongside her mother and relocated to one of the remaining human areas of the planet. The unlikely partnership forces them to learn a bit more about each other – and themselves – in order for both of them to find the family they treasure.
Home is as genial and good-natured as its main character overall; the plot is occasionally a little meandering and chaotic, but it dashes along at a fairly breakneck pace, and the level of humour was spot on for my almost-5yo (there is one particular knock knock joke I think we’ll be telling for weeks). She was particularly charmed by the dancing scenes (“my hands are in the air like I just do not care”) and cackled gleefully at the odd helping of toilet humour.
For me, the main plus points were the small but significant nods the film made towards greater inclusivity. In a world where the bulk of big-ticket animated features is still very white and tends to be rather male-dominated (unless royalty is involved), it was a breath of fresh air to see a film where a substantial amount of screentime was given over to a sparky, intelligent girl of colour – and one who wasn’t particularly defined by being a girl at that. Tip’s mother, desperate to find her, describes her to a Boov guard, uttering the line “she has beautiful brown skin” – something that’s just lovely to hear. To top it all, the animation allows Tip to have a fairly normal, childlike body.
We actually missed Home in the cinema as we were off on holiday just after it was released, and my daughter was quite gutted – so to get the opportunity not only to watch the film but to do so with bunting strung up, snacks to nibble on and a garden tent to sit in (although we were indoors!) filled her with excitement. While I wouldn’t say it’s gone straight into our list of favourites, I suspect we’ll watch it again at some point as it was sweet, enjoyable and made for a fun family afternoon. I think it’s a particularly strong choice for the younger members of the family, being lighter and less developed than DreamWorks favourites like the excellent How to Train Your Dragon (and with fewer fart jokes than Shrek).
Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of Home, along with a party pack, by Fox; however, this is not a paid review and all opinions are my own.