How good is the new Dreamworks movie ‘Home’?

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Do you remember that period between the mid-nineties and mid-noughties when pop divas were having their own terrible movies made in which they flaunted their inability to do anything but look pretty?

Mariah in Glitter, Britney in Crossroads, The Spice Girls in Spiceworld... It didn't take a genius to spot that these movies were cynical, money-driven ploys to capitalise on kids' ability to whine the hard-earned cash right from their folks' pockets.

Well, Home didn't take a genius either, but it took a bit of clue-spotting (the real bomb dropping in the closing credits) to figure out what was going on. Dreamworks' new animation starts on an interesting and amusing premise: a population of alien beings called the Boov, who have survived the millennia with their inimitable ability to run away from danger, decide their next stop in staying hidden from their arch enemy will be Earth.

Instead of planning a hostile takeover and incinerating every living being, they collect the population and drop them into highly efficient, newly built communities to live on as normal.

Pretty nice bunch, it would seem. The main hero of the story is the Boov named Oh (so called due to the agitated sigh he prompts from others when he enters a room), who no one likes because, as this type of character tends to do, he goes against the grain of the group by hosting parties nobody turns up to.

When the invite to his latest shindig is accidentally sent out to the whole galaxy, it's a race against time to stop their whereabouts being delivered into the enemy's hands (the Space Internet isn't so hot: it takes 36 hours for a sent e-mail to arrive). If this sounds like a minimally-entertaining plotline, it's because it is.

Dreamworks' last movie The Croods was rather similar: decent animation, sporadic humour and a thin story devised to fill time between Establishment of Problem and Solution to Problem.

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We know Oh will retrieve the AWOL party invite, sway the group's opinion of him and find acceptance, so it becomes more of a game of guessing how he will escape each time-consuming sub-peril. That's not even the issue, as children seemed to find it entertaining enough.

A human character is introduced: a girl named Tip, who was left behind during the Boov's spring clean, and is living in hiding whilst trying to get back to her mother. Another familiar idea.

She is the same smart-mouthed little urchin that the Only Kid always is in these productions, and after initial distrust of Oh, they join forces to achieve their respective goals and ensure that the obligatory misleading certainty of doom is present towards the end. Now it does have a couple of pros: dialogue is funny at times, and unneeded scenes are graciously glossed over.

For example, when their slushie-fuelled vehicle breaks down and needs repairing, the action skips straight from them finding an appropriate replacement part to speeding off again, without the tedious detailing of carrying out the repairs that a lesser picture would have lingered on. And Steve Martin lends voice to the Boov leader Captain Smek, which is very enjoyable. But the first element to grab my attention for the wrong reasons was the soundtrack: it seemed totally out of place.

Softly sung guitar ballads during action and poppy Rihanna songs during quiet scenes.

A lot of Rihanna songs where they really didn't belong. What was going on here? Then at one point, Tip tells Oh that she is from Barbados. That's an obscure and quite irrelevant detail, that's never mentioned again.

And which mega pop diva do we all know who's from Barbados? When the credits rolled, the penny dropped. Tip was voiced by no other than...Rihanna. So that's what this was all about.

Another cynical popstar movie gimmick, just with slightly covered tracks.

This angered me a little.

These sorts of gigs may be ideal for up-and-coming, wholesome characters, but for such a widely-known and established star as Rihanna, it comes across as a total ego trip.

She doesn't need any more publicity; the world already knows who she is.

Even if after her failed live-action turn in Battleship she fancied a go at voiceover, there was no need for her ill-fitting compositions that Home is grittily littered with.

The movie is an enjoyable enough way to spend time with your children, but there are far better releases in the cinema right now. I would recommend Cinderella. Rating: 2 stars out of 5 **

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