‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ Sucks Remaining Life From Franchise

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The families who get suckered into the truly horrendous “Ice Age: Continental Drift” should be angry. Not only does it fail when compared to the best animation of the year (“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” “The Pirates! A Band of Misfits,” “The Secret World of Arrietty,” “Brave”) but it’s less entertaining than most children’s television. The audience with which I saw the film was notably restless as the writers of this stale franchise hit the same tired beats over and over again and the bored voice talent can practically be heard endorsing their checks as they lackadaisically read their lines. The new cast members try to bring a little life to this tired material but they can’t save a franchise frozen out of all creative thought.

The best line in “Ice Age 4” comes courtesy of Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) when he offhandedly quips about how this makeshift family’s last adventure involved fighting dinosaurs, which he notes didn’t make a lot of sense but was fun. Once again, the team behind this franchise have come up with a bizarre plotline that doesn’t make a lot of sense but they’ve forgotten the fun. The alleged uniting theme of this installment in the billion dollar franchise is “family,” how this bizarre group of unlikely friends has become closer over the years. It’s as loose a theme as a family film has had in years since little of the plot has much to do with it. It’s more characters just yelling “FAMILY!” every once in awhile to try to unite the plotlines.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Photo credit: Fox Pictures

The bulk of “Ice Age: Continental Drift” features Sid, Diego the Tiger (Denis Leary), Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), and Sid’s Granny (Wanda Sykes) navigating the open waters on a floating chunk of ice after the planets start to shift. They’ve been separated from Manny’s family, including partner Ellie (Queen Latifah), the manic Crash (Seann William Scott) & Eddie (Josh Peck), Manny’s daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), Peaches’ peers Ethan (Drake) & Steffie (Nicki Minaj), and Peaches’ molehog friend Louis (Josh Gad) — who are all trying to avoid sliding chunks of land and get back to Manny while Peaches also deals with typical issues of being a teenager.

Enough characters for you? Tough. “Ice Age: Continental Drift” comes from the more is better school of animated screenwriting — the one that thinks that enough characters means enough actual writing. Manny, Diego, Sid, and Granny run afoul of an ice ship pirate ape named Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), who leads a ragtag crew including Shira (Jennifer Lopez), Squint (Aziz Ansari), Flynn (Nick Frost), and more. Of course, Shira and Diego develop a relationship. Manny fights to get back to the family that needs him. And Sid is mostly there for comic relief. And don’t forget Scrat, a character who LONG AGO went past the point of humor into the land of repetition. Even five-year-olds are going to think they’ve seen this shtick before.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Photo credit: Fox Pictures

To be fair, the new actors do bring a bit of energy to the film. Dinklage is having fun, Frost is great, and even Lopez has a bit of energy that the film desperately needs. They seem much more engaged by the material than Romano and Leary, who barely put anything into their performances here. Even the actors are bored of playing these characters.

And it’s easy to see why. “Ice Age: Continental Drift” would be acceptable as a mid-season episode of a Cartoon Network series in the way that it hits plot points that the series has visited before but it simply lacks the creativity to be acceptable under 2012 3D ticket prices. It’s visually uninspired and a stunning number of jokes just hit the floor with a thud. Even the reliable laugh-getters in the past like Scrat’s physical comedy or Sid’s bad hygiene produced nothing in the theater in which I saw the film. Even kids know when they’re being forced to see an inferior version of something they’ve seen before. Stay home and watch the first two movies again. It might take twice as long but it will be half as painful.

“Ice Age: Continental Drift” features voice work by Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Keke palmer, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Aziz Ansari, Nick Frost, and Jennifer Lopez. It opens on July 13, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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