REVIEW: Almost Home [2014]

Score: 3/10 | ★


Rating: G | Runtime: 4 minutes | Release Date: March 7th, 2014 (USA)
Studio: DreamWorks Animation / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Director(s): Todd Wilderman

“Next!”

I’m not really sure what Dreamworks is doing, but the existence of Almost Home rubs me the wrong way. A four-minute short shown before Mr. Peabody and Sherman—replacing the Gary Trousdale helmed Rocky and Bullwinkle piece that was inexplicably removed—I thought it was mildly humorous in a charmingly prolonged gag sort of way. But now I discover it’s actually a prequel for a full-length feature entitled Home that’s being release this November? So the studio pretty much decided to shoot a glorified trailer to pique the interest of those unfamiliar with Adam Rex‘s source material The True Meaning of Smekday? I don’t like what that says, whether it’s a planned bit of marketing manipulation or not. It sets a bad precedent of lying by exclusion.

Depicting a series of failed attempts by the alien race The Boov and their leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin) to find a new home, the short pretty much sets their spaceship’s approach of Earth. Then it simply ends. No, “To be continued”. No, “Look for Smek’s continuing adventures in theatres this winter”. Nothing. It’s perplexing. I liked the myriad ways in which no-name Boov meet their death on other planets along their search and Martin’s performance as their greedy, totalitarian leader. I didn’t even mind the fact we know nothing of their race, are clueless towards why their home is uninhabitable, or that there is no resolution. But if they’re trying to pass off an advertisement as a “film” I’m going to call them out on it.

No offense to director Todd Wilderman—whose credit above Home’s actual director Tim Johnson makes me believe this footage won’t be included in the feature length version—but this is an underhanded business maneuver. Was Dreamworks really so afraid that no one knew Home was coming out that they bumped an original piece with historical connection (Mr. Peabody and Sherman are part of “The Bullwinkle Show” stable of characters) to its attached film? That’s the opposite of confidence in the property and a lack of respect for their audience by opaquely duping us into watching something with a direct link to the studio’s future profit margin. If a credit stating that it’s a promotional piece exists, I missed it. Such a notation should have been front and center.

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