Making the Grades
Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere provide the voice talent for two animated wolves named Humphrey and Kate in this 3D adventure. The pair of carnivores calls Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada their home. But even though they enjoy cavorting with their friends and family in the serene nature preserve, there is still a problem brewing. The “Eastern Wolves” led by Tony (voiced by the late Dennis Hopper) live across the creek and are desperate for meat because the caribou don’t roam there anymore. These hungry neighbors want access to the land dominated by Kate’s father Winston (voice of Danny Glover).
One obvious solution appears to solve the territorial dispute: Have Kate accept Tony’s son Garth (voiced of Chris Carmack) as a mate. As both are Alpha wolves, they are equally matched in the accepted social order. However, there is one secret dissenter to the plan. Humphrey, a second-class Omega male silently yearns to woo Kate himself. But figuring out a way to overcome long-established class boundaries and getting approval from her father and the rest of the pack, are substantial obstacles he has yet to overcome. (And then there is the fact that Kate views him only as a buddy.)
While the animals attempt to sort out some resolution to this soap opera, a couple of animal control officers appear on the scene. The human officials are looking for a pair of wolves they can relocate to help repopulate a state park in Idaho. And guess which two they pick?
The next thing Kate and Humphrey know they are waking up in the back of a pickup truck on their way to the Gem State. When they are released into an unknown wilderness, the pair immediately begins to look for a way back home. Soon they meet up with a duck (voice of Eric Price) and a Canada Goose (voice of Larry Miller). Although the foul are first and foremost serious aficionados of golf, they also claim to have visited Jasper often and offer the lost wolves a few pointers on finding their way north.
So Kate and Humphrey set out on a long road trip. Of course, this means they will have to spend a great deal of time together and… well… I’m sure you can see where the plot will go next.
While the conclusion may not be a huge surprise, parents may be wondering if they are the only ones feeling a little awkward about the portrayals of the animals in this film. Although there are no overt sexual discussions in the movie, it’s the “howling” that may raise some eyebrows. This somewhat musical activity is described as the ultimate uniting of a male and female wolf, and the dialogue accompanying the event implies there is more to it than just exercising vocal chords. (After their howl, one character asks the other, “Was it good for you?”) It’s subtle, but the term is essentially a synonym for sexual activity.
That aside, there is little other content for concern. The wolves get into a couple of skirmishes and are seen hunting on a few occasions. (This "natural" pursuit is depicted without blood and very little peril). Some mild bathroom humor is also heard.
On a final note, artistically this film falls below what audiences are used to seeing from more mainstream sources. It’s a US-based production that’s animated in India and set in Canada. Sadly, this international blend doesn’t work very well, and the animal movements, as well as their environmental surroundings suggest few of the creators have ever seen a wolf or its typical habitat. If you go expecting more of a beta experience, you’ll be in for less of a disappointment.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Alpha and Omega.
What do the “alpha” and “omega” wolves symbolize in human society? What are the father wolves asked to accept in order for their children to be happy? Are differences in cultures or class distinctions easy to overlook in a relationship?
Humphrey is an "omega" and seen as being fun loving with a good sense of humor. Kate is an “alpha” and is more serious about life. Is it possible to have a directed, determined personality and a sense of humor? Why do you think these characters are depicted in this way?