There have been a lot of disappointing news recently revolving around Dreamworks' animation division. First, PDI in Redwood City has been completely shut down with many artists having to find new jobs and more recently is the Glendale campus having to sell off part of their location and then leaseback. Thus it is imperative that their next movie, Home, does well.
Luckily I was able to go see an early screening of Home! Home was.....nice. It wasn't a bad movie but it would be hard for me to say it was a spectacular stand out movie. It was a good movie but it felt that it was playing very safe. I hope that I haven't grown cynical from watching and analyzing too many movies. What made the movie felt very safe was that it followed many tropes ,and with an expected / supposed target demographic, the plot felt predictable and there weren't many surprises. There were still good story elements and the ones that were intentionally made to tug on heartstrings worked and many tears were shed.
One thing that I found surprising was the small cast. There was Jim Parsons (Oh), Rihanna (Tip), Steve Martin (Captain Smeck), Jennifer Lopez (Lucy), and Matt Jones (Kyle), followed by an equally short list of additional cast. That was it. The movie meanwhile was beautifully populated with thousands of characters that I did not suspect was largely handled by a mere nine people.
The animation was delightful, particularly of the Boov aliens with their tentacle horn things and their many feet. A particular favorite is how the Boov change colors depending on their emotions.
I found the art style very simplistic and to the point, and thus very effective but also leaving me with a desire for a bit more. The art returns back to the basics of shape language with circle, squares, and triangles. Circles are safe and nice; squares and sturdy and strong; triangles are sharp and scary. The Boov function largely with circles and spirals from their horn tentacles normally being a spiral to all their technology being spheres. The only Boov that was different is Captain Smeck who has his tentacle horns pointed up and out thus foreshadowing his less than positive contribution to the plot. The humans, Tip and Lucy all have very round heads and features, further hammering in that they are the protagonists. On the other side is the Gorg and it is clearly just made out of triangles to emphasize it as the big scary antagonist that the protagonists must resolve by the end of the movie.
In front of Home, Dreamworks has included another short. This time hailing from the Kung Fu Panda franchise is Panda Paws. Again, it was......nice. The short was fun and funny but it largely read as a commercial for the upcoming planned Kung Fu Panda 3 movie. I suppose that's what Dreamworks wants to do though since they had a Home short in front of Mr. Peabody and Sherman. My issues is just that it blatantly read as a commercial.
Honestly, I hope the film does well as Dreamworks is in dire need of some good news. Advertising does need to step up though as I knew the movie was being released sometime this year but I hadn't even known it was this soon. I was only notified about the screening a few days before through e-mail and otherwise I had seen no news about Home.