By Tim McEown

Mailed on March 30, 2015

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Dear Andrew Erekson
Storyboard Artist

Dear Andrew,

Given how important visual storytelling is to any movie, especially an animated movie, a good storyboard artist can be an essential part of a film’s success—or failure. However, no amount of storytelling acuity on your part would have saved Home from its saccharine banality.

Storyboard artists help create a shot-by-shot map for the director to follow, so they are partially responsible for each moment up on the screen. And Home certainly has some fun moments—a flying car fueled by Slushie syrup is consistently enjoyable—but it is betrayed at every turn by a tedious script and a generally annoying protagonist. Although props for passing the Bechdel test, as there is not one human male character of any consequence in the whole film.

The story rests heavily on the relationship between an unctuous and socially inept alien called Oh and a young woman, Tip, who is separated from her Mom when the passively aggressive Boov take over earth. The plot revolves around these two and their initially uneasy alliance. If that sounds like a rehashed trope that has been worn to a nub— it is. Rihanna and Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory are the leads, so originality doesn’t seem to have been a big priority.

The film stutters every time it takes a breath. It looks pretty and the design and animation is generally well conceived and executed, but the talking bits constantly feel so watered down and cliché ridden that the whole plot feels like an afterthought. I enjoyed watching how effectively the story was told but I just didn’t care one bit about anything that was happening.

With the exception of Steve Martin as the Boov Captain (and he really is criminally underused as a voice actor), each character seemed taken from a generically inoffensive manual of stock animation characters. In fact the whole film, from the threadbare plot to the mood ring color wheel of the Boov (they change color with each emotion, further telegraphing each beat) feels like it was workshopped by a test audience locked in a room.

Animation is most effective as a storytelling medium when it uses its seeming innocuousness to tell a slightly transgressive story—Iron Giant and its pro single parent, anti-war underpinnings or BoxTrolls with its critique of class divisions and the dangers of groupthink. But Home has none of the above—instead we are fed a kind of goopy homily about courage and friendship that feels remarkably insincere.

You did your job as well as you could, Andrew; unfortunately the creative team you were employed by seemed otherwise occupied. I hope Home serves at least to pad your resume and you find work on something more suited to your obvious talents.



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