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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Comedy, Romance, Kids, Animation, Action/Adventure
Cast
Justin Long as Humphrey; Hayden Panettiere as Kate; Danny Glover as Winston; Vicki Lewis as Eve; Dennis Hopper as Tony; Christina Ricci as Lilly; Larry Miller as Marcel; Eric Price as Paddy and Mooch; Chris Carmack as Garth
Director
Ben Gluck (Brother Bear 2) and Anthony Bell
Distributor
Lionsgate
In Theaters
September 17, 2010
On Video
January 11, 2011
Reviewer
Meredith Whitmore
Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega

The take-charge alpha wolves in Canada's Jasper National Park can't see the forest for all the furry prey that's begging to be stalked and killed. Laid back omegas, meanwhile, just wanna have fun. After all, their hunting grounds battle with the Eastern wolves and their top dog, Tony, doesn't need to be so serious. There are always berries to eat if the caribou herd dwindles.

Clearly, then, alpha Kate and omega Humphrey are from opposite ends of the pack. But Humphrey feels a spark for her. And it's really not fair that Kate's being groomed by her dad, Winston, to mate with Tony's alpha son Garth. She has to, her pops says. She's a peace offering designed to join the two feuding packs and open up fertile hunting fields for everyone.

That plan gets foiled when Kate and the jealous Humphrey are unexpectedly captured by forest rangers and relocated to Idaho in order to repopulate wolf packs there.

That's just dandy with Humphrey. But Kate didn't sign up for it.

Her sense of responsibility calls her back to Jasper to marry Garth and keep her pack well fed and protected. So at the advice of Marcel, a golf-playing goose, and Paddy, his caddy, Kate and Humphrey hitchhike north—innocently cementing a forbidden romance in the process.

Positive Elements

Kate tries hard to follow her sense of duty to provide for and guard her pack, even if she'd rather eat those dreadful berries than mate with Garth. And if there's anything even close to meaty material in this flick, it's her grappling with what it looks like to do the right thing while not giving up on love at the same time. Trading out wolves for humans, that's a pretty big deal, and she handles it about as well as you could hope. During her unexpected trip/adventure/ordeal with Humphrey, she learns how to have fun and be a good leader.

Humphrey steps up to the plate to protect Kate and others, showing his own leadership ability even when nobody expects an omega to do anything heroic.

Loving wolf couples illustrate the fact that opposites can teach and complement one another. Winston helps archrival Tony when he's unable to run from danger. Several characters risk their lives to save others. The snarling packs eventually grow to have a caring relationship that supersedes aggressive wolf customs.

Spiritual Content

Humphrey does a silly rain dance to make it stop raining.

Sexual Content

Nothing gets explicit, but nearly everything in Alpha and Omega is winkingly tied back to sex. It's awkwardly explained that alphas and omegas are forbidden to howl together, but what's really meant is that they shouldn't mate. So howling becomes a euphemism for sex. And while kids may not go that far mentally, they'll surely understand that it's all about sexiness. Humphrey, for his part, can't wait to howl with Kate, and he urges her to do so with him on several occasions.

Young wolves pair up for a moonlight howl at one point, and a slow-motion close-up of Kate, waving her fur and walking like a human woman on a runway, prompts comments of "hot" and "sexy." Garth asks Kate, "Was it good for you?" after he howls to impress her. Humphrey is seen lying on top of Kate when the two inadvertently tumble together. (He's pleased by the position.) Wolves are seen holding paws and sitting close. Marcel and Paddy slyly comment on Kate and Humphrey being "undomesticated partners."

Kate is shown inadvertently wearing a bra from a human's suitcase that's come open.

Violent Content

The wolves' menacing growls and snarls might be scary for sensitive younger children. They precariously slide down cliffs and mountainsides or fall from heights. They're threatened in a frantic caribou stampede—twice. Opposing packs fight, biting and growling. A wolf or two are injured. A man shoots at Kate and Humphrey, intending to kill them, but misses.

Kate's mom threatens any wolf who dares to romantically pursue her daughter. She's fond of saying things like, I'll rip out your eyes and shove them down your throat so you can watch me tear apart your carcass. And she tells Kate to bite a boy's neck until he "quits shaking" if her suitor does anything untoward. She savagely attacks Humphrey.

Humphrey chases Marcel, biting his leg. Aggressive bears chase wolves. Humphrey holds two terrified squirrels as a food offering to the Eastern wolves. He suggests that he and Kate eat Marcel and Paddy. An animal's backbone and ribs are depicted. Paddy plays chiropractor and way overdoes it while cracking Marcel's neck and back. Garth is such a bad howler that birds fall from sky when he lets loose, smacking into the ground around him.

Crude or Profane Language

Words such as "darn," "geez" and "gosh" are used. Paddy exclaims "holy water!" as Humphrey chases Marcel through a river. And another "holy …" is left unfinished. "Oh, poo!" and its ilk serve as exclamations. Name-calling includes "snaggletoothed fool," "stupid," "dud" and "barf" (which Humphrey uses instead of Garth's name).

Drug and Alcohol Content

When rangers shoot Kate and Humphrey with tranquilizer darts, the two begin to act as if they were humans getting stoned. It's mentioned that a store sells beer.

Other Negative Elements

There are multiple "butt" jokes, including a scene in which Humphrey flies face-first into a moose's derriere. (We see the moose's wincing face.) Caribou saucily shake their behinds at the wolves, prompting Humphrey to say he wouldn't want to howl at that "moon." There's a quick gag about mistakenly drinking urine. A wolf urinates in fear and jokes about it. A play on words involving "Idaho" suggests an inappropriate term. Humphrey says he needs to vomit, then promises to swallow it instead.

Kate lies to Humphrey, leading him to believe she's attracted to Garth. Kate and Humphrey stow away in a human camper and on a train.

Conclusion

Alpha and Omega's presumed target audience of 5- to 10-year-olds will get a pleasant dose of cuteness and a couple of fairly solid messages. But since this film simultaneously—and incongruously—places a heavy emphasis on dating and mating, young kids will also be exposed to so-called "hot" and "sexy" wolves, flirty romance and veiled references to sexuality.

In short, then, this is a children's romantic comedy—a phrase I never thought I'd have to type.

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