Floe Blow: Arctic Tale shows a polar region hit hard by global warming.

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The contrast between charming penguins and cruel Antarctica was too much for more sensitive viewers of March of the Penguins, both children and adults. But that film looks like a model of restraint compared to this conceptual descendant, which is simultaneously disturbing and cutesy—and didactic to boot. Directed by Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson and scripted by Linda Woolverton, Mose Richards, and An Inconvenient Truth–ling Kristin Gore, Arctic Tale hits the global-warming buzzer loudly and repeatedly. Yet it also features fart jokes and ghetto-arctic narration by Queen Latifah. The Arctic, she explains, is “a paradise on Earth” for polar bears, walruses, seals, beluga whales, narwhals, and arctic foxes. Yet some of our new friends will be killed and eaten as the cameras roll, and while Ravetch, who shot the movie, doesn’t cut away from such moments, he does tend to pull back. Diminishing the usual anthropomorphism of such movies, the filmmakers name only two of the characters: newborns Nanu, a polar-bear cub, and Seela, a walrus pup. Nanu’s mom and brother and Seela’s mother and “auntie” are identified only by their family roles. Yet this discretion is pointless in a movie that shows a walrus colony as if it were boogieing to Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and hunts together because—as Latifah explains—“that’s just how they roll.” Once Nanu and Seela are old enough to spend time alone, the message kicks in: Their way of life is threatened because the region is warming. Without the expected cycle of freezing and thawing, hunting becomes difficult, and the animals face starvation. Assembled from 15 years’ worth of footage, Arctic Tale is a National Geographic production in the tradition of Disney’s fictionalized nature tales; viewers can’t be sure that the same animals appear from scene to scene, or that whatever Latifah says is happening is really what Ravetch’s images show. But all ambiguity vanishes by the movie’s end, when little kids tell us to shape up by taking the bus and doing our laundry in cold water. Nanu and Seela would thank you—if only they weren’t composite characters.