Before I give my worst movies of the year list tomorrow I thought I would preemptively explain my choice of Home as the worst animated film of 2015. Most people I feel will have Strange Magic at the bottom and it is not good by any stretch of the definition; However, I do think it is better than Home. Here’s why:
There is no doubt Strange Magic is a very flawed film. The script is the biggest problem with dopey dialogue that was extremely predictable and corny. For example, one of the girl characters says to another ‘get your head out of the clouds- a cloud of boys!”. That’s just terrible writing… Strange Magic also has characters that are at best on a Saturday morning level of development.
George Lucas said he wanted it to be a ‘girl power’ film and yet the girls are so silly. I know there is love potion involved but they certainly fall for the idiot male characters easily. They are pretty much vehicles in the story to fall in and out of love without any real personality or character development.
The songs are performed fine but so on the nose and uncreative they became annoying. When the Bog King starts singing ‘wild thing’ I yearned for the good old days of Happy Feet, which was at least a little creative in the song selection…
However, even with all that said, at least the story in Strange Magic is solid. It’s based on Shakespeare for goodness sake. It may have been predictable but unlike Gnomeo and Juliet (yikes…) it stuck pretty true to Midsummer’s Night Dream. The animation and vocal performances are also good- certainly better than the movie deserved. If the script had been better and the song choices more original it would have been a pretty good film.
Home was worse for me because the story makes no sense. These aliens gather all the humans to one place, which is really stupid. I mean who wants to gather all their potential foes together? And they manage to build all these houses for the humans and yet they know nothing about them like even that they live in families. And wouldn’t there have been a big conflict when all those homes were being built for the relocated humans? They also don’t know how human items work like a hair dryer but they manage to run the cities after the humans have left. They know how to not only fix cars but make them super cars using a slushie machine but they don’t know about toilets (such a lame toilet joke would have been so much funnier if the aliens had a truly original take on the scene not just eating it).
The aliens basically use planets until resources die and then move on to the next planet. This makes no sense to me and makes them all cuddly but very mean when you really think about it. And especially when you find out why they keep moving on it is so stupid.
Basically the whole story is based on the fact that Oh sends a reply all email to the entire galaxy. I’m sorry but that’s just lame! It’s not believable as a serious cause for conflict and the attempt to make Oh misunderstood only becomes frustrating. They have all these ways of communicating (email, those orb things) and yet the entire plot could be solved by a phone call or an actual conversation but nobody will listen to poor Oh.
The villain motivation was also very murky and really doesn’t make sense when you think about it.So he just wanted to keep invading other planets with his essentially minions for what purpose? They give a reason but it defies credulity. All I could see was to make puns and be a silly villain. And then when we get the second villain it’s even worse. Another conflict that could have been solved by a couple conversations but the dastardly plan would have been foiled. Groan! The ending had me rolling my eyes out of the theater.
The character motivations were also extremely muddled and inconsistent. Tip for instance sometimes behaved like a teenager, sometimes like a little girl and she was voiced by a 35 year old woman which was strange. There was never a moment where I felt like a girl had not only lost her mother but all of her species had been abducted! I mean that’s some serious trauma, not just a bad grade on a test. She seemed more upset by the way people treated her at school than the chaos that surrounds her.
Oh was also inconsistent, sometimes smart, sometimes stupid, sometimes silly, other times somber, and badly voiced. They basically take Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory and make him an alien. And as much as I like BBT it did not work for me. I found it a very grating character and performance that was again inconsistently written.
At the core it is a road trip movie we’ve seen a million times and the attempts at humor were so lame. The tone is really all over the place, which is exemplified by the music feeling like it belonged in another film. Home could have been a fun silly film for preschoolers but the somber moments ruined that appeal. I left Home thinking ‘who was this made for?’. It’s pretty morose for small kids and definitely nothing new for adults. And unlike sometimes morose movies such as Inside Out or Song of the Sea it didn’t give me anything new and like I said, the plot holes abound. It’s at best a generic road trip movie, nothing more.
So that’s why Home for me was worst animated film of the year. It had inconsistent characters, flawed story, terrible voice acting choices, and a poorly managed tone. It made for an overall big letdown and despite their somewhat mixed history, I still expect much better from Dreamworks.
I guess when it comes down to it if I had to watch Strange Magic or Home again I’d pick Strange Magic. To me it at least has a good story, looks nice and has some well performed, if uncreative songs.