'Alpha and Omega' is an uninspired tale of puppy love - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

'Alpha and Omega' is an uninspired tale of puppy love

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Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 8:00 pm | Updated: 3:38 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Between Marmaduke and now Alpha and Omega I'm officially starting to get fed up with movies in which four-legged animals dance. Exactly what do filmmakers find so appealing about dogs and wolves prancing around on their two back legs? Is it supposed to be funny or charming? Having cute penguins tap dance is one thing. But there's something I find unbearably grotesque about quadruped animals doing the foxtrot, even in the universe of animation. Alpha and Omega has so many needless dancing sequences that the film could have been called Dances with Wolves.

In this animated adventure Justin Long provides the voice of Humphrey, a fun-loving Omega wolf. He has the hots for the pack leader's sexy daughter, Kate, voiced by Hayden Panettiere. Unfortunately, Kate is an Alpha and Alphas cannot howl with Omegas. That would be like a beauty marrying a beast, a princess marrying a street rat, or a mermaid marrying a human.

It's Kate's duty to marry the Alpha son of another pack leader, joining their two packs together. Before Kate can get hitched though, Humphrey and she get tranquilized by a group of hunters. They wake up in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area where they're expected to repopulate. Humphrey is all game to make some serious puppy love. But Kate is determined to get home before a war breaks out between the two feuding wolf packs. Humphrey and Kate escape the park, rather easily I might add, and head homeward-bound. Along the way an English duck, voiced by Eric Price, and a French-Canadian goose, voiced by Larry Miller, accompany them for little purpose other than to provide an occasional wise-crack.

How Alpha and Omega ends shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone in the audience. The standard plot is not the film's problem, though. Almost all animated films follow a blueprint and few can be as unpredictable as Toy Story 3. It was no surprise in Despicable Me, an animated feature I enjoyed a fair deal, when Mr. Gru's diabolical heart was captured by three children. That movie made up for its formulaic plot with original characters and inspired humor, though. Alpha and Omega, on the other hand, has no qualities that distinguish it from a straight-to-video production. The animation is bland, the jokes are corny and the dizzy 3D effects add nothing to the story.

I will give some credit to the voiceover cast, who all try really hard here. Vicki Lewis scores a couple of chuckles as Kate's fierce mother. Alpha and Omega is also one of the last movies to star Dennis Hopper, who passed away last May. When people evaluate the amazing career Hopper had, I doubt that his role as Tony the wolf is going to come to mind.

The most unsatisfactory element of Alpha and Omega is the lackluster romance between Humphrey and Kate. The film's most engaging relationship is actually not theirs but between Kate's intended husband and her sister voiced by Christina Ricci. But their romance is reduced to a minor subplot.

If you have children under the age of 5, Alpha and Omega might keep them occupied for a solid hour-and-a-half when it comes to DVD. But compared to a great animated love story like WALL-E, The Princess and the Frog or Up, the film does not meet the standards.

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

 

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