DVD Release Date:  January 11, 2011
Theatrical Release Date:  September 17, 2010
Rating:  PG (for rude humor and some mild action)
Genre:  Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family
Run Time:  85 min.
Directors:  Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck
Voices by:  Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Larry Miller, Eric Price, Vicki Lewis, Kevin Sussman, Chris Carmack


Proving yet again that not every story needs—or necessarily deserves—the high-gloss 3-D movie treatment, Alpha and Omega is yet another example of kiddie entertainment that's perfectly mediocre.

Unlike say, Furry Vengeance or Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Alpha and Omega doesn't bother scraping the bottom of the barrel for cheap laughs, which is certainly appreciated. But even with a healthy dose of aw-shucks charm and a decidedly heartwarming underbelly, this road-trip romance still lacks the warmth and sophistication, not to mention those essential eye-popping visuals, of its recent animated counterparts Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me.

Perhaps a nod to the classic romances of yesteryear, Alpha and Omega's protagonists are two adorable and snuggly lovable wolves (from rival packs, natch) named Humphrey (Justin Long) and Kate (Hayden Panettiere). But aside from the occasional exchange of witty banter and the crowd-pleasing opposites-attract premise, that's about all Alpha and Omega has in common with the treasured likes of Bogie and Katharine Hepburn. 

Set in a small colony in Canada, the story begins with a brief introduction on what makes these respective wolves tick. For the alphas, (and that includes Kate), there's simply nothing more important than discipline, hard work and earning the respect of the community. Groomed to be the eventual leader of the pack, Kate's parents have sky high hopes for her future, and as you probably already guessed, that doesn't include dating a directionless, laid-back (code word for "slacker," of course) omega wolf like Humphrey.

While Kate is learning how to properly contain a wild pack of caribou, Humphrey spends his days bobsledding down nearby hills in makeshift sleds with a couple of his dim-witted buddies.  But truth be told, even slackers can't help noticing a particularly pretty girl, so Humphrey decides that he's determined to win Kate's heart, no matter what it takes. Trouble is, she's already destined to marry a preening, perpetually tone-deaf suitor (yeah, saying his howl is off-key is putting it mildly) named Garth (Chris Carmack) in an effort to keep the peace between the now-sparring wolf packs.

Before anyone can't get too upset, naturally, there's a plan in place to prevent that loveless union, even if it's merely accidental.

After their unexpected capture by humans for a wolf-relocation project, Kate and Humphrey are eventually transported to Idaho, where countless calamities and pratfalls play out predictably but inevitably draw the pair closer and closer together. While Humphrey would be more than happy to complete the increase-the-numbers-pronto mission set before them, Kate knows the responsible thing is to head back home to Canada, marry Garth and move on with her life.

Sad thing is, even with a relatively focused plot and a short running time, the movie still drags and drags. Not only do the flat, coloring book-esque illustrations fail to inspire and effectively draw you in, (and the 3-D effects do absolutely nothing for the cause, short of forcing parents to spend even more of their hard-earned cash) but aside from Humphrey and Kate, the supporting cast is also decidedly one-note, despite the level of talent involved (namely Danny Glover and Dennis Hopper, in one of his final performances).

In fact, Alpha and Omega brings that old Icelandic proverb to mind, namely that mediocrity is really just climbing molehills without sweating. And trust me, if it's a so-so day at the movies you're seeking, you'll find just that without investing much of anything.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Beer is referenced but never consumed.
  • Language/Profanity:  None, but there is a bit of scatological humor (mainly involving animal poo).
  • Sex/Nudity:  None.  The animal kingdom's need to procreate is mentioned several times (and this is something Humphrey is definitely up for the "challenge"), but Humphrey and Kate's relationship is nothing more than puppy love.
  • Violence:  Just a couple of instances of animals in perilous situations—nothing overly scary, though.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.