[Screen It]


(2019) (voices of Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum) (PG)

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The following is an unedited version of our final review that may contain spelling, grammatical, and/or factual errors. This film was not screened in advance for reviewers.
Computer-Animated Comedy: An arctic fox enlists the help of his friends to stop a villainous walrus from unleashing ancient gases that will melt the Arctic and turn him into the ruler of the world.
In the small arctic town of Taigaville, the only connection the talking animals who live there have with the outside world is through the mail and package delivery done by Duke (voice of MICHAEL MADSEN) and his fellow "top dog" sled-pullers. And for that, they're considered heroes of sorts, especially to arctic fox Swifty (voice of JEREMY RENNER) who idolizes Duke and one day wants to join their ranks.

Until then, he works alongside PB the polar bear (voice of ALEC BALDWIN) and Lemmy the albatross (voice of JAMES FRANCO) in the sorting room for Magda (voice of ANJELICA HUSTON), the stern Russian caribou who runs the operation. When not longing for that job, Swifty has a thing for red fox Jade (voice of HEIDI KLUM), the engineer there, but can't get up the courage to tell her how he really feels about her.

But he'll do anything for her, including delivering a package far, far away to Otto Von Walrus (voice of JOHN CLEESE), an engineer who's created a huge robotic crab-like contraption in which he rides to get around more easily. Little does Swifty or Jade know that he's using her creations to help build an enormous drill he plans to use to release ancient gas from deep inside Earth, all to melt all of the arctic snow. And with the help of his puffin henchmen, he's getting close to doing just that.

After being abducted by otters Leopold (voice of OMAR SY) and Bertha (voice of HEIDI KLUM), Swifty eventually figures out the plan and gets his friends to join him to help stop Otto before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

When it comes to animated movies, I've never understood the near uniform studio decision to use well-known performers in the voice roles. After all, unless their characters are drawn to look like them, it just seems like a waste of money, what with targeted kids either not caring or not even knowing who the actors are.

And if it's supposed to draw adults who will recognize the names, I just don't know anyone who will be sold on a "featuring the voices of" ad tag line. Not to mention there's plenty of unknown vocal talent out there who'd do the same work for a fraction of the cost and deliver the same sort of results.

Whatever the case, that debate is far more interesting than the latest such film to use big-name talent for character voices, "Arctic Dogs." While the likes of Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, Alec Baldwin, James Franco, John Cleese and more all do a fine job, their characters and the overall story are derivative of previous works, the animation is decent but nothing noteworthy, and I'm already forgetting much of the flick mere hours after seeing it.

I'd recommend going back and re-watching any number of far better and more interesting computer-animated films, even ones where you might not recognize all or even any of the names. This one rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed November 1, 2019 / Posted November 1, 2019

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