I’ve never been ambiguous about my love for Pixar. Even Cars, despite being an unabashed rip-off of Doc Hollywood, has its moments– including memorable characters, a genuine tug at the heartstrings, and some very funny gags. (In fact, it’s still my favorite Pixar movie– but I’ll admit it’s due more to nostalgic fascination with Route 66 than anything else.) Dreamworks Animation, on the other hand, just can’t seem to break through… and if it keeps giving us bland, vanilla yawns like Home, that fact won’t be changing anytime soon.

For every Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks gives us forgettable, pedestrian junk like their last four movies– Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2 (okay, that was a little better), and Penguins of Madagascar. How many of those make you want to drop what you’re doing and grab the DVD?

Dreamworks’ latest is arguably the most forgettable of the bunch. Sure, Home is harmless, and cute, and occasionally fun… but will it be on anyone’s repeat-viewing list? Probably not. And is that really what Dreamworks is going for? Do you think John Lasseter sits in the boardroom at Pixar and says, “Okay, team– let’s make something bland and forgettable”?

Home features the voice of Jim Parsons as Oh, an alien pariah who lands on Earth with his Boov compadres to re-settle in an attempt to escape the evil Gorg. Rihanna provides the voice of “Tip” (her real name, oddly enough, is Gratuity– ha?), a seventh-grader who trips on Oh as she’s trying to find her mom, who the Boov abducted and shipped away.

There’s nothing here that you didn’t already see thirty years ago in E.T.— a cute little alien befriends a cute little human, and together they learn the importance of friendship, love, family… and (of course) home. But it has none of E.T.’s heart, brains, or humor.

A big problem here is that most of Home’s (juvenile) humor is rooted in Oh’s quirky mis-use of the English language. (Exactly how the millions of other Boov don’t have the same issue is never explained.) When Tip traps him in a convenience store freezer, Oh asks if he “can come into the out now.” And when Tip says she needs a pee break, Oh says, “I too has to break pee.” Cute, right? After an hour and a half, though, Oh’s quirk-speak just gets downright irritating.

Sure, there’s plenty here for the 8-and-under crowd to enjoy (and that is clearly the target audience), but there’s little else for anyone. Parents will roll their eyes a lot more than they’ll crack a smile.

My 13-year-old son, who apparently has a future as a movie critic himself, summed it up even better than I can: “Jeez, it’s Lilo & Stitch with Planet 51’s animation, Dad.”

Well, there you go.

2/5 stars