“Arctic Dogs” serves up family-friendly fare, scoring high on the cuteness meter despite its lack of originality. The little ones will love Swifty (voiced by Jeremy Renner). He’s an arctic fox who always dreamed of being top dog for the Arctic Blast Delivery Service (ABDS). When he finally gets a job there, it’s not as glamorous as he’s imagined.
Directed and co-written by Aaron Woodley with writing contributions from Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker, Matthew Lyon, and Bryan Thompson, “Arctic Dogs” brings the message of “be yourself” to the snowy north.
Swifty and his pals, PB (voiced by Alec Baldwin), a loveable polar bear, and Lemmy (voiced by James Franco), a scared-of-heights albatross, live in the quiet hamlet of Taigasville. The remote Arctic community depends on ABDS to deliver all the things they need for daily life. Because of this, the dogs who pull the delivery sleds, Duke (voiced by Michael Madsen), Dakota (voiced by Laurie Holden), and Dusty (voiced by Donny Falsetti) are the town heroes.
As a youngster, Swifty bemoans the fact that he’s practically invisible to most of the other townsfolk – literally. His parents insist on dressing him in white so he blends in with the snowy landscape. His biggest wish: to be noticed and loved by all like Duke, Dakota, and Dusty. When he grows up and begins working for ABDS, Magda (voiced by Angelica Huston) the boss caribou, puts him on the conveyor belt that prepares packages for delivery.
Jeremy Renner voices Swifty in "Arctic Dogs" (AMBI Group)
When Swifty promises Jade (voiced by Heidi Klum), another fox he’s always had a crush on, to deliver a late package for her, he stumbles into the lair of Otto Von Walrus (voiced by John Cleese). Walrus wants nothing more than to rule the world. His evil plan consists in drilling into a gas pocket directly beneath Taigasville. Releasing the gas and melting the ice would result in the town’s destruction.
The voice acting in the film far surpasses the shortcomings of the script. Jeremy Renner brings the right mix of excitement and genuineness to Swifty. Franco, Baldwin, Huston, Klum (voicing two characters), and Cleese help to make “Arctic Dogs” rise above the film’s lack of freshness.
Even though the values in the film are suitable for all, the “be true to yourself” message has had better film vehicles (“Moana” comes to mind). Still, the kids will enjoy the antics of the story although the adults who accompany them may find themselves rolling their eyes at the bathroom humor in the film.
One good takeaway that parents might want to talk about with kids: the qualities and gifts we have that we might not appreciate so much right now might be just what we need to help us fulfill whatever it is that God might have in store for us in the future.
Thanks to Catholic News Service for permission to post this review.