Movie Review: Home (Formerly, The True Meaning of Smekday)

You may remember that I really loved The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex.  This left me both excited and leery of the movie version, the inexplicably renamed Home.  I finally watched this recently, an impulse pick-up at Redbox, and…it was neither as good as I hoped nor as bad as I feared, turning out to be an enjoyable movie based on a better book.

HomeThe basic premise is the same: the Boovs land on Christmas (of course), conquer Earth and relocate all the humans.  Eleven-year-old Gratuity (her friends call her Tip) sets out in her car with her cat Pig to find her mother, who was abducted.  She connects with J.Lo–or, in the movie version, Oh–a Boov being hunted by the other Boovs for accidentally summoning their dreaded enemy, the Gorg.  Tip and J.Lo/Oh travel together, bonding along the way.

Pretty much everything else has changed–namely, everything that happens along the way as they travel (apart from the bonding).  It was actually a somewhat disconcerting adaptation, because some of the small details (like naming the car Slushious) stayed precisely the same, while great big massive things (going to Paris, for example, instead of Happy Mouse Kingdom and Roswell) were completely different.  Maybe it helped me try to take this as just a different story though?

Because for the most part, I didn’t find myself freaking out about the changes.  It was just…different.  Not necessarily better or worse, just different.  Or maybe I should say, not any less entertaining.  Because I did think that the movie was an entertaining but fairly conventional animated film, while the book was much more clever, original and insightful.  Just saying.

But I did enjoy the movie, and laughed out loud when Oh yelled after Tip, off on a hair-brained plan, “This has a low probability of success!!!”  Although that might have been funnier because Oh was voiced by Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon.  Which brings me to what I liked most, and also what bothered me most.  Parsons was excellent, simply as a voice actor and because, I’ll be honest, he sounded like Sheldon and that made it funnier.

But the movie flipped point of view, and that bothered me.  The book is from Tip’s point of view (theoretically she wrote it all as a school assignment).  The movie is narrated by Oh.  Which means a story with a half-black, female narrator is now being told by…well, yes, an alien, but one voiced by a white man.  I may be reading too much into that, but it did bother me (especially when the movie also cut the entire subtext theme about Native Americans).  And even if you take the race question out, I don’t think an awesome girl narrator is something we want to lose.

Small political rant done!  Taken purely on its own merits, this movie is very entertaining, frequently funny and has a sweet message about family.  Although, as often happens, the book was better.

Author’s Site:

Buy it here: Home (or buy the book)

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Home (Formerly, The True Meaning of Smekday)

  1. I watched this not long ago and could have sworn some of the elements sound like they were from a book review I’d read here! I thought it was kinda’ fast and really silly. Though… I would like a flying car powered by slurpies. I couldn’t get over Jim Parsons… I, too, was constantly reminded of Sheldon, and it simply cracked me up.

  2. dianem57

    Yes, nine times out of ten, the book IS better! I guess one has to take them as separate entities and try not to compare them too much. It’s always hard to take a good book and make a good movie out of it. There’s more to a book than can usually be put into a typical 2 hour movie.

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