Directed by: Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck
Starring: (voices) Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Larry Miller
I will freely admit that I’m not a part of the elementary-school-aged demographic that Alpha and Omega is shooting for. If I were, would I like this movie better? More than likely, but that’s the key to a movie like this—my brain would need to revert about 20 years just to get the possibility of enjoying the film. Sure, you can cut a movie some slack if it’s made for kids. But as a critic, I can’t understand how recommending mediocre children’s films helps anyone. Quality family entertainment has been made in the past—it’s not unheard of.
Alpha and Omega is simply the latest in a long line of cheap, awful animated movies. With the ease of computer animation, these half-baked attempts at family entertainment are more and more prevalent, with the idea obviously being that kids will watch anything (never mind they’re not the ones buying the tickets). Cobble together some cheap animation that would look at home on a cereal commercial, hire some B-list talent to spout the corny jokes and bathroom humor you’ve gotten some hacks to cook up, and fame and fortune await.
OK, the film isn’t quite as bad as, say, Delgo (2008), but at least that movie had some ambition, as misguided and malformed as it might’ve been. Alpha and Omega‘s biggest shortcoming is its lack of any real spark or imagination. The bad animation or even the unexciting voice talent could be overlooked if the story were somewhat imaginative. Instead, we get something approximating a road movie for animals. Two talking wolves—an Alpha (Hayden Panettiere) and a goofy Omega (Justin Long)—are captured and sent off to a nature reserve. The rest of the film follows their attempts to get home.
The point of the movie is to teach young ’uns about peace, love and understanding, since Alpha wolves and Omega wolves aren’t supposed to fall for one another. The idea of open-mindedness is perfectly noble, but here it feels like a sop to parents and a simple case of just going through the motions.
Alpha and Omega works better as a cautionary tale, since this turned out to be Dennis Hopper’s final role. Like Anne Bancroft in Delgo or Raul Julia in Street Fighter (1995), you can never be too picky about what projects you take, because you never know which one might be your last. Rated PG for rude humor and some mild action.