Oh is an alien (voiced by Jim Parsons) – they call themselves Boovs. Boovs are really, really good at running away, and their arch-nemesis the Gorg gives them good reason to practice this skill on a regular basis, evacuations led by their esteemed Captain Smeck (Steve Martin). This time, they’re fleeing to Earth, where they simply flip the switch on gravity and relocate all the humans. In the hubbub, a little girl named Tip (Rihanna) is separated from her mother (Jennifer Lopez) and she must reluctantly team up with the ever-unpopular Oh to find “my mom.”
This movie is cute if unoriginal – it reminded me of so many (better) animated films, but didn’t have a defining identity of its own. And I’m not sure if it took a while for the audience to warm up to it, or if the movie took a while to get going, but the laughs didn’t really start for a good 10-15 minutes, which actually felt a lot longer than it sounds. Once the laughs came, they continued. The movie casts a wide net – there’s something for cat lovers, pop culture dwellers, tweens, and younger kids. It’s easy enough to be entertained by this movie, but I doubt it’s going to grab audiences the way the minions did, or the three-eyed aliens from Toy Story.
There are plenty of fun moments: Tip’s house is booby-trapped so cleverly she makes Kevin McCallister (from Home Alone) look like a hack, and Oh learning how to car dance will have the kids waving their arms in the air like they just do not care. Actually, there are enough smart one-liners to earn a laugh from even the most cynical adult in the audience, but it doesn’t play to the adult viewer the way some Pixar movies have managed.
We saw the movie in 3D and wondered why. The movie doesn’t make much use of it, which is understandable since 3D kinda feels played out. Now it feels like a cash-grab, an excuse for the studios to charge twice the price for a ticket.
This movie is a stand-out in one big way though – not only is the protagonist female, not only is she black, she’s animated with realistic proportions. In the era of princesses, this means something. She’s smart and resourceful, and the movie doesn’t rely on stereotypes in her characterization. Her immigrant background is mentioned but not dwelled upon. It’s refreshing to see such a face on the big screen (she’s the first black lead character ever in 3D animation, and the second protagonist of colour for Dreamworks Animation, the first having been way back in 1998 when they did Prince of Egypt).
Bottom line: it’s an enjoyable film for kids, but the ground-breaking diversity doesn’t make it a classic. Diverting but not memorable.
I’m glad that they are exploring ways to use diversity in their storytelling, but I had a feeling that this would be…unoriginal. Here’s to hoping that they find better stories to tell with minority leads.
I quite like a number of Dreamworks Animation, esp How To Train Your Dragon. For whatever reason this one doesn’t appeal to me though. It’s good that they’re exploring diversity in animated features though.
It turns much too serious for its own good, though it otherwise is an entirely satisfying animated adventure story.