I’m not opposed to prehistoric sit-com style humor, in fact I love The Flintstones (the cartoon that is – not the John Goodman films), but the new movie Ice Age: Continental Drift is more along the line of a bad, extended episode of Growing Pains – with emphasis on the ‘pain’ part for anyone having to slog through this mound of mammoth manure.
The original Ice Age movie was amusing, but I don’t agree that it warranted a sequel, let alone this fourth installment in which the jokes have gotten older and colder than the glaciers on which they are set. The only thing separating Continental Drift from a sub-standard Saturday morning cartoon you might see on television is that some of those shows are actually funny.
In the new animated film sequel, Ice Age: Continental Drift, the squirrel-rat creature called Scrat is still after its illusive acorn nut; and through a series of gags that have global consequences the snaggletoothed rat-thing causes the continental shelves to separate, just as the mammoth family of Manny (Ray Romano), Ellie (Queen Latifah) and Peaches (Keke Palmer) are having a family argument regarding Peaches wanting to hang with the cool mammoths.
Manny, together with his pals Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the sabretooth tiger (Denis Leary), end up separated from Ellie and Peaches and adrift at sea on an ice glacier. While trying desperately to get back to his family, the three friends encounter giant crabs, siren-creatures and a pirate-ship/glacier helmed by a nasty ape named Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage).
Other voice talent in Continental Drift includes Wanda Sykes as Syd’s near-sighted Granny, Josh Gad as Peaches’ best mole-friend Louis, Aziz Ansari as the prehistoric pirate-rabbit Squint and Jennifer Lopez as the sabertooth Shira. Unfortunately, the most entertaining character in his film is the Scrat creature, who coincidentally doesn’t speak, but is voiced by Chris Wedge. The squirrel-thing is always good for some old-school Coyote- and Roadrunner-style hijinks, which is the only redeeming quality of this movie.
The first Ice Age film was made 10 years ago and for Continental Drift it appears that Blue Sky Studios animation technology has stayed frozen in 2002. While Pixar and Dreamworks have made huge strides in advancing the quality of their art form, the 20th Century Fox Ice Age films seem to be content with just putting out a fast and cheap product.
Ice Age: Continental Drift is aimlessly co-directed by Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who) and Mike Thurmeier (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) and it was written by Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs, whose story is as separated from laughs as the Manny mammoth is from his family. The movie is in 3D but I can’t recommend seeing this film at all – let alone spending extra money to see a dark and muddy version of it.
I get that this is a children’s movie, but that shouldn’t stop it from entertaining adults also, as many of the best animated films do. In fact, Continental Drift is easily outshone by its pre-feature Simpsons‘ short, The Longest Daycare, a hilarious spoof of Ayn Rand novels that is classic Simpsons fare and works on multiple levels. It is funny, smart, completely without dialogue and kids will love it as much as adults. It’s everything that the new Ice Age film wishes it could be, but I just didn’t get the feature film’s drift.