All Swifty ever wanted was to stand out.
As a pure white arctic fox, Swifty was used to blending in to his snow-filled surroundings and being ignored.
His dream: to become a courier for the Arctic Blast Delivery Service, just like the idolized husky couriers known as the Top Dogs. But it doesn’t happen. Instead, Swifty’s offered a job in the mailroom after graduation. At first, he was sure that with hard work and determination that he’d climb to the top of the proverbial mailroom ladder. But three years go by, and nothing changes.
Until one fateful day, when the famous group of Top Dogs goes missing and Swifty decides to step up and prove himself by delivering the mail across the arctic.
As he defies the odds and goes where no fox has gone before, Swifty stumbles upon a strange address delivering a very important package. The address of Otto Von Walrus, a nefarious villain plotting to destroy the entire arctic with hazardous gasses.
Determined to save his little arctic town, Swifty races back to warn both friends and citizens. But most don’t believe him. Now, Swifty must find a way to save the day and prove that he’s more than “just a fox,” before the only home he’s ever known melts away into the sea.
Swifty is a kind, brave, adventurous and determined arctic fox. Even when fame goes to his head, he realizes that his friends matter more than his status, and he goes to great lengths to save those he loves. Swifty becomes a symbol of hope for some. And he says that making the world a better place, while being yourself, is the best thing you can do. Swifty eventually comes to believe that “everyone has something unique and special to offer” the world.
Jade, Swifty’s uber-intelligent crush, is loyal, compassionate and encouraging. Jade motivates Swifty and champions him to be himself. Once, when they were kids, she made sure Swifty was noticed and cared for when he felt alone.
PB is also a good friend of Swifty. PB is constantly supportive of him, even when Swifty ignores him and is a bad friend. PB celebrates and encourages Swifty at work and urges him to be himself.
Throughout this film, then, we get some solid lessons about self-acceptance, dependence and the necessity of friendship.
An otter wears a shirt with the “Eye of Providence” on the front. (This is meant to be a joke, as the otter is a known conspiracy theorist.)
Swifty hops out of the shower without clothes on and later strips down to his white underwear to blend in with the snow. He also gets hit in his private parts and dramatically falls forward from the pain.
An albatross jokes about streaking. A female mouse is accidentally interrupted while bathing. Magda tells Swifty that her ex-husband ran off with a young elk.
Swifty and Jade flirt, hold hands and kiss. A male and female otter, who refer to one another as life partners, kiss.
Otto Van Walrus is a nefarious nemesis bent on destroying the entire Arctic. He releases a harmful gas into the atmosphere and sends an army of puffins to gas people. He tries to destroy an entire town with a technologically advanced submarine and drill. Otto Van Walrus also sends his puffins to kidnap various animals (knocking them out with toxic gas guns) and holds them captive in his secret lair. He threatens to submerge a group of animals in a tank of boiling water. A few machines explode and catch fire.
Swifty joins a secret group, “The Resistance,” and he’s punched in the face as part of the initiation ceremony. Puffins hit one another in the face and wrestle around. A flock of puffins is used as “ammo” and shot out of a cannon to hit their fellow puffin friends.
PB warns Swifty to be careful delivering packages, suggesting that Swifty could fall into a crevice and be forced to “eat” his own feet. Magda makes a joke about curiosity “killing the cat.”
A walrus exclaims “for goodness sake” and calls his followers “idiots,” “fools” and “freaks.”
A radio announcer asks his listeners if they’d like to enjoy a piña colada on a hot day.
Swifty often felt discouraged and overlooked as a kid because of his bright white coat. His parents’ life motto, one that he was expected to adopt was: “Out of sight, you’re all right.” Because of this, he’s always felt the need to prove himself so that he could stand out from the snow and the rest of the crowd, becoming more than “just a fox.” As Swifty slowly gains fame in his little town, it quickly inflates his pride. For a time, he treats his friends poorly and stretches the truth for attention.
An angry walrus destroys an office after his ideas are rejected. As the weather gets warmer, animals are left without jobs and medicine to survive. Magda yells at Swifty and suspends from his job after he lies about a promotion.
PB vomits. Swifty and a few others burp. A few jokes are made about flatulence. A bird blushes when he realizes his pants are unzipped.
Arctic Dogs feels like a classic kids’ tale … that goes on for far too long. The film’s only an hour and a half. But various plot inconsistencies make it feel much longer. The film also gets a bit preachy about the negative effects of global warming, a message that may resonate with some and annoy others.
Despite its storytelling issues, as well as toilet humor and mild innuendo, Arctic Dogs delivers some solid messages for kids.
Kids learn, along with Swifty, that being yourself is more than enough; that you don’t have to be someone other than yourself to be worthy of love. They also learn that dependency is not a weakness. Instead, when we work together, with everyone contributing his or her unique gifts, we can make the world a better place.
And for a kids’ movie that message isn’t too shaggy … uh, I mean shabby.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).