A children’s animated film released in 2010, Alpha and Omega is as unremarkable as they come. Boasting a Romeo and Juliet love story that makes the plot of Gnomeo and Juliet look hugely original, the film posits what might happen if one of the lowest ranking wolves in the pack ever fell for a member of the highest ranking wolves in the pack. Knowing that in nature the answer would be a resounding nothing, the animals are sedated and transferred to a nature reserve so that they can be coerced into “howling” at one another by meddling humans.
Surprisingly blunt about its sexual politics, Alpha and Omega is unabashed in its treatment of sex as both character motivation and a key plot point. Considering that this movie has been rated U and spoon-fed to our planet’s children on the grounds that, “look at da widdle wolves”, Alpha and Omega appears to boast the irresponsible misconception that sexual harassment is, like, really funny. Our resident Alpha, Humphrey (Justin Long), you see, wants to “howl” with Hayden Panettiere‘s Omega. Positively stalking her around the woods, his rapey attempts at wooing his resistant target are played for laughs as a golfing duck and his goose caddy conspire to get the two together.
This subtext might not have shone through so blatantly had Alpha and Omega actually been funny. Instead, a series of clichés and face-palming knuckle-punches are used in lieu of decent jokes and actual wit. Played as a lupine episode of Beauty and the Geek, the humour is so generic that it could have been sourced from any high school comedy from the last ten years. Characterisation is substituted with ‘hilarious’ faces, while the slap-stick gags serve only to illustrate just how uncertain Lionsgate are when it comes to comedy – clearly more at home in one of Jigsaw’s games. Whether the aforementioned poultry are playing golf, the characters are skateboarding on improbable chunks of tree-bark, or our favourite wolves are getting married, the laughs aren’t even unintentional. They’re out of embarrassment.
The penultimate paragraph is usually reserved for some throwaway remark about how far animation has come or how breath-takingly beautiful the 3D has rendered it. In the case of Alpha and Omega, however, neither statement would be even remotely true. More at home on a Nintendo 64 (sans expansion pack) than the silver screen, the film is slightly less jarringly unattractive on the small screen. With animation that smacks of old-school Banjo-Kazooie, only without the inspired characterisation and perfectly integrated euphemism, Alpha and Omega is a big step down from the splendour of Toy Story 3 or the majesty of How to Train Your Dragon.
All in all, Alpha and Omega is a charmless, inappropriate, derivative and deeply forgettable slice of children’s entertainment from Crest Animation Productions that pales in comparison to the good work of Pixar and, more recently, DreamWorks too. With limited special features including a chirpy Making of Doc, an ironic personality test and the joyless Log Sliding Game, there are precious few reasons to buy Alpha and Omega on DVD. Rent it from Love Film, but only to see just how bad it really is.