Film review: 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' makes for fun entertainment

July 16, 2012|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • This image released by 20th Century Fox shows characters, from left, Manny, voiced by Ray Romano, Diego, voiced by Denis Leary, Sid, voiced byJohn Leguizamo, Granny, voiced by Wanda Sykes and Shira, voiced by Jennifer Lopez in a scene from the animated film, "Ice Age: Continental Drift.
(AP Photo/20th Century Fox)

The "Ice Age" franchise has always annoyed certain viewers with its historical inaccuracy.

 The main characters of the films are prehistoric mammals, and it really bothers some people that they interact with humans and dinosaurs, who were from different eras.

Now comes "Continental Drift," an installment that sees millions of years' worth of plate tectonics happen very rapidly. If you find the gag to be insulting to your intelligence, you aren't a good candidate for "Ice Age."

 The rest of us are OK with this kind of gag because this is an animated film with talking animals and our suspension of disbelief is already stretched wide enough to cover one of the new continents. That isn't to say that I'm particularly fond of the humor in the film, but I am willing to give it a fighting chance.

The breakup of the planet's one and only landmass can be blamed on franchise standout Scrat the Squirrel. Once again trying to bury an acorn, Scrat manages to get trapped in the Earth's core and wreak havoc on its structural integrity.

Up on the surface, Manny the Mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) gets separated from his family when the continent breaks apart and they're on different sides. Manny's portion of land is so small that it floats away and the characters treat it like a watercraft for the rest of the movie as they struggle to get back to a home that is literally falling to pieces.

Manny is stuck on his "ship" with his best friends, tough saber-tooth tiger Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) and the stupid yet loveable Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo). Also with them is Sid's granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes), a constant source of gross old-lady gags often involving teeth or rather her lack of teeth. The group encounters a ship of pirates led by nasty monkey Capt. Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage).

 The crew also features jolly walrus Flynn (voiced byNick Frost), revved-up rabbit Squint (voiced byAziz Ansari), and a lady saber-tooth tiger named Shira (voiced byJennifer Lopez) who is destined to become a love interest for Diego. That's a lot of characters to process at once, and that's not even counting the subplot with Manny's family.

Back on temporarily solid ground, Manny's wife Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) looks after their daughter Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer) as their herd tries to make it to a safe haven. Peaches has a crush on fellow mammoth Ethan (voiced by Drake), and is completely oblivious to the crush that her best friend Louis the Mole-Hog (voiced by Josh Gad) has for her. I find the casting of Gad interesting because a former college roommate of mine named Cale Krise just took over the role that Gad originated in "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway.

All those minor players bouncing around gives the film an unfocused feel. I got the impression that the filmmakers wanted to have a lot of characters so they'd have an excuse to cast a lot of celebrities to do their voices and then lend their names to the film's advertising. Of the new players, my favorites are Keke Palmer, the aforementioned Gad, and Peter Dinklage as the evil pirate captain. Here's how awesome Dinklage is: in a movie with singers like Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez and Drake (among others), the majority of the lone narrative musical number goes to him. He does a heck of a job with it, too.

Viewers of all ages are going to think that the jokes in "Ice Age: Continental Drift" do a lot of hitting and missing. More mature viewers will think the jokes do a lot more missing than hitting. It isn't so painful that you'll be mad at your kids for wanting to see it, but it isn't a film worth seeking out if you don't have kids. If you do have kids, they'll probably like it a lot more than you, and you'll be happy that they're happy.

Two Stars out of Five

"Ice Age: Continental Drift" is rated PG for mild rude humor and action/peril. Its running time is 94 minutes.

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