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Home: Party Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Home

You are all invited to a party! The Home Party Edition Blu-ray that is. This animated film from Dreamworks, directed by Tim Johnson (Antz, Over the Hedge), features the voices of Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Rihanna (Battleship) as an alien and a human, both displaced and journeying together to try to find something each of them have lost. Supporting voices come from Steve Martin (The Jerk) and Jennifer Lopez (Gigli). With a bevy of special features to keep the party going all night, this Blu-ray for Home is a fun choice for families, couples, or anyone who likes to have a little amusement for an hour and a half.

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Film 

Home tells us the story of a clumsy alien named Oh, voiced by Jim Parsons, whose species, the Boov, on their quest to avoid another run-in with their space-enemies, have decided to conquer Earth by moving all the humans out of their homes and moving in themselves. Oh, a bit of a social outcast, accidentally sends an email invite to his housewarming party to all recipients, which includes the enemy from whom the Boov have been running. Forced into hiding by his actions and the coward-megalomaniac Captain Smek, voiced by Steve Martin, Oh happens upon Tip, voiced by Rihanna, a young girl whose mother was relocated in the invasion. With the two of them trying to escape their respective situations and providing both camaraderie and utility for each other, they make a pact to try to find Tip’s mom while avoiding Oh’s capture. The majority of the film plays out like a road movie. The two main characters and their pet cat, named Pig, travel the planet trying to find Tip’s mom and escape the law. Along the way they find the true meaning of friendship.

The Story of Home is nothing special. But the character interactions are where this film can really shine. Oh is silly and selfish and indoctrinated by the cowardly ways of the Boov. While Tip is fun-loving, deep, and dedicated to the bond of family. And Pig is a cat. As these three journey together, Oh grows and changes and develops and learns. And this is important, because he is able to take the lessons he learned from interacting with the headstrong Tip back to his fellow Boov to convince them that always running away from the problem is not the answer. Mostly because of Oh’s antics and silliness, this movie is hilarious. I was frequently caught off guard by the jokes and gags and I have been finding myself repeating some of the funnier moments in my head.

Home is well-paced. At 90 minutes, it doesn’t drag or feel overly long. The one major problem with the film is really one of its biggest successes. Jim Parsons as Oh is annoying. His voice grates and the strange manner in which the Boov speak doesn’t help him. However, this works well for the character of Oh. He is supposed to be annoying. He is intentionally a character who other people groan about when they see or hear him (it is actually why he is named “Oh,” like a facepalming sigh). And while the first 20 minutes of him talking might be enough for a person to want to take all the treble out of their speakers, giving Oh a chance to grow both as a Boov and on the viewer flips the whole negative around in the end.

All of the vocal performances in Home are pretty good. Rihanna, despite being a 27 year old woman, never sounds like anything other than a young teenage girl. She is exuberant in the fun times and somber in the down times. Steve Martin hams it up to the right degree. The special features show some test footage with Steve Martin doing a more over-the-top rendition of his character and it feels way out of place. The reigned in, but still wacky job that he does here fits the tone of the film just right. Jennifer Lopez only gets a few lines in the film, but her work is good when it is there. She has more of a role on the music soundtrack, which is jam packed with pop songs (to which, it appears, we are supposed to be shaking our “Boov” thang), than in the vocal booth.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4  AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.84:1

Clarity/Detail: The animation is very crisp and clear. 1080P allows the viewer to notice little details like the texture of Oh’s body or the amazing job done on Tip’s hair.

Depth: While the animation really focuses on items in the foreground, there are a number of shots that capture deep, full images.

Black Levels: This film is mostly bright and colorful. Even the few scenes in space are littered with light sources in the distance. Even so, when the colors abate for a few moments here and there, the black levels are solid and dark.

Color Reproduction: The colors are great! The film has a pretty warm palette, with some cool blues and purples for the skin tones of the Boov. But, since it is an animated film, the colors can be true to what they need to be and it makes for an exciting, live world.

Flesh Tones: Hmm. Tip, her mom, and the other humans all look like they have stylized human skin. The Boov change colors, but mostly stay purple, red, or shades of yellow. I wouldn’t say that means this film stays true to “flesh tones,” but within its own universe, it is consistent.

Noise/Artifacts: Very clean. Even with lots of fast motion and tons of quick shifts in color.

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Sound 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French  Dolby Digital 5.1.

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Sound Effects are excellent with spaceships, flying cars, explosions, and a cat. Sometimes it feels like the pop-music soundtrack is trying to make all the other sounds go sit in a corner while it handles the channels.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer doesn’t get a big workout during Home, but when huge spaceships fly into frame, a beautiful low rumble is there to accompany.

Surround Sound Presentation: Though a lot of the film is dialogue-heavy, working almost exclusively in the center channel, there are enough things flying around or crashing that the rears get a few things to do.

Dialogue Reproduction: While I thought at first it could have been my audio settings, I checked and it turned out that Jim Parsons just sounds like that. Dialogue is clear and center.

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Extras 

 The Home Party Edition Blu-ray includes both a DVD and Ultraviolet Digital copy of the film.

Best Party Ever! (HD, 1:01) –Serves as an intro to the special features

Oh’s Shake Your Boov Thing (HD, 2:56) –Various Boov dance to human music and change colors.

“Feel the Light” Music Video (HD, 4:10) and Lyric Video by Jennifer Lopez (HD, 2:04) –A music video and shortened lyric video for a song featured in the film. “Feel the Light” is a decent pop ballad with the first few notes serving as a callout to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The music video is just Jennifer Lopez with a white body suit and shiny makeup standing in front of a green screened “space” background while she sings intercut with clips from the film. The Lyric Video is a cut down version of the song with some clips of Jennifer Lopez singing in the studio intercut with clips from the film as the lyrics come up on the screen in the purple Home font. These are both pretty skippable, unless one finds the song particularly interesting or has children who do.

Oh’s Boovy Jukebox (HD, 28:03 Total) –This is a way to jump to the songs as they play during the film. It just starts and stops the movie at the time of the songs’ beginnings and ends.

Oh’s Party Planning Tips (HD, 1:12) –Very short voice over of Oh discussing some things that he would bring to a party while he rehashes a few jokes from the film, with various clips from the film itself providing the visuals.

Oh’s Costume Party –Interactive feature allowing the viewer to dress up Boov to look like Oh or Captain Smek.

Short Boovies: (HD, 10:05 Total) –3 animated shorts that tie into the main film.

This is Being Boov (HD, 2:53) –A quick animation that introduces the viewer to the Boov species, voiced by Jim Parsons as Oh. This has a couple fun parts, particularly the descriptions of the 7 different Boov genders.

Almost Home (HD, 4:08) –A fun little short showing some wacky misadventures of the Boov, as led by Steve Martin’s cowardly Captain Smek, while they try to find the next planet to call home while on the run from the Gorg.

Testing Lab (HD, 2:04) –Oh voices over clips of various Boov testing out human products to determine their usefulness against a white background. This one is purely for the kids; it is too short to be interesting and too silly to be fun.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 26:14 Total) –Director Tim Johnson gives a brief introduction before each of these deleted scenes. He describes where it would have fit in the film and why it ended up not being used. These serve as the highlight of the bevy of special features on this Blu-ray. We are shown alternate openings to the film, mostly with unfinished animation, animatics, and story boards and voiced by Steve Martin, Jim Parsons, and the director himself filling in when they hadn’t yet cast the actors. The best thing in here is seeing the earlier version of Steve Martin’s Captain Smek character. In Tim Johnson’s intro, he talks about playing around with different styles for Smek and the one shown in the alternate opening was deliciously scenery-chewing. Great that Steve Martin toned it down for the performance he gave in the film itself, as it lets the main character shine more.

Be an Artist! (HD, 22:52 Total) –Art lesson videos from one of the artists for the film. He shows step-by-step instructions on how to draw Oh, Tip, and Pig the cat.

Stars of Home (HD, 1:32) –Jim Parsons and Rihanna talk about the film and their characters of Oh and Tip.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)

Gallery –Some stills from the film

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Summary 

Home is fun. It isn’t complex and it isn’t going to win any awards, but it also doesn’t insult its audience and it knows how to have a good time. It has a heart. Importantly, it is not just some animated movie that was made for kids to sit in front of for an hour and a half while the parents can get a break. Oh is a funny character whose lines are memorable. His antics, his strange cheezburger-meme-like manner of speaking, and some simple, yet interesting special features make this Home Party Edition Blu-ray worthwhile. I imagine children would have a great time and I am sure adults would too. Lessons about friendship, courage, and the importance of family are clear and strong, but not ham-fisted. Incredibly smooth and colorful animation and lots of little sci-fi references scattered throughout as well top off a quality release.

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I like to be challenged to think about things, so I studied Philosophy in college. Now I am paying for it.

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