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.