AWFJ Women On Film – “Alpha and Omega” – Review by Susan Granger

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In Canada’s scenic Jasper National Park, the wolf pack is socially separated into two groups. The Alphas are the leaders, the disciplined hunters; traditionally, they only breed within their caste. The Omegas are followers, second-class slackers.

A typical teenage Omega, Humphrey (voiced by Apple pitchman Justin Long) loves bobsledding down hills in hollowed-out logs with dim-witted buddies and video-gaming squirrels. He yearns for his Alpha wolf friend Kate (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) but she’s been promised by the lupine leader, Winton (voiced by Danny Glover), to mate with Garth (voiced by Chris Carmack), the scion of rival chief, Tony (voiced by the late Dennis Hopper). Then one day, Humphrey and Kate are hit by tranquilizing darts shot by forest rangers and shipped off to Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho as part of a wolf-relocation project. While their captors expect them to reproduce, Kate’s determined is to find her way home as quickly as possible. On their long, perilous journey, they’re helped by a French-Canadian golfing goose (voiced by Larry Miller) and his duck caddy (voiced by Eric Price). Eventually, Kate and Humphrey discover that customs and strata are sometimes made to be broken – at least where true love is concerned. Besides, while they’re gone, Kate’s shy little sister, Lilly (voiced by Christina Ricci), has entranced fitness-obsessed Garth.

This co-production with India’s Mumbai-based Crest Animation has admirable intentions and the 3-D is effective as the animals run, jump and fly. Their dancing, however, leaves a bit to be desired. Family audiences have come to expect Pixar/DreamWorks/Disney caliber animation and this falls far short of that. What’s even more disappointing is the lackluster rom-com script by Christopher Denk and Steve Moore and flaccid direction by Anthony Ball and Ben Gluck. And tiny tots might easily be terrified by the snarling wolves slaughtering stampeding caribou. To their credit, the vocal actors, especially Vicki Lewis, as Kate’s mom, rise above the mundane material.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Alpha and Omega” is a frenetic, fur-flying 4. Wait to howl with the DVD.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.