Director: Tim Johnson (2015)
A fugitive alien and a streetwise girl team up to save the world in this bright and busy animated adventure.
Based on Adam Rex’s 2007 children’s book The True Meaning of Smekday, it’s a technicolor blast of fun for the little ones that adults will be happy to doze through.
Proud of their cowardice, the many tentacled Boov are small, roundish and look as if moulded out of purple bubblegum.
They change colour depending on their mood; red when they’re angry, green when they lie, orange when scared and so on.
Although they seek safety in numbers, the Boov prefer to spend their time on their alien smartphones than talk to each other.
Engaged in a galactic game of cat and mouse with their angry armoured enemy, the Grog, the Boov conquer a new planet whenever they need a new home.
Lead by the blustering prevaricator Captain Smek (Steve Martin) – who’s not unlike the Wizard of Oz – they descend on Earth.
Using giant tubes attached to their flying saucers, the Boov suck up all the humans. This leaves the buildings intact to be their living spaces.
The people are deposited safely in a purpose-built, sunshine-soaked suburbia. It’s a fairground-filled, pastel coloured ghetto out of Tim Burton‘s worst nightmare – but is actually in Australia.
An optimistic but naive Boov called Oh (Jim Parsons) emails an invitation to his house-warming party but sends it to the entire galaxy by mistake – including to the Grog. As a result he becomes a fugitive.
Due to the vast galactic distance the it has to travel, the Boov have forty hours to hack Oh’s password, prevent the Grog from receiving the email and discovering where they are.
Meanwhile Oh encounters a human who accidently escaped relocation. She’s a curly haired poppet called Tip (Rihanna) and is desperate to find her mother Lucy (Jennifer Lopez). Instead of a pet dog named Toto, Tip has a cat called Pig.
Parsons riffs on his super-nerd persona of Sheldon in the TV series The Big Bang Theory. Rihanna is adequate playing a headstrong if whiny character.
In the credits I counted 6 songs by Rihanna, 1 by Jennifer Lopez and non by Parsons.
Reluctantly teaming up, Oh turns Tip’s family car into a flying mobile. Now powered by a slush drink dispenser, the car conveniently serves cinema snack food such as nachos, popcorn, hotdogs and the like.
Together they confront the Grog and discover not everything they have been told is true.
Their good-natured squabbling becomes annoying though the film achieves a reasonable emotional depth when they shut up.
With the animators allowed to work uninterrupted, they conjure up a dazzling image or two.
The script is keen on cramming in an exhausting list of life lessons; keep promises, tell the truth, appreciate art, take care of your family, be web safe, be brave, learn a foreign language, shushing people is bad..
There’s a lot of toilet jokes, a reasonably zippy pace and the movable skulls of the brainy Boov made me smile. Though not the least challenging, it is a genial good time.