Today I’m writing from Vancouver, Canada. My girlfriend and I are celebrating two wonderful years together and figured why not do so in a city with such great sushi and a drinking age that accommodates us both. As she is currently getting ready for Dinner tonight, I figured I might as well take a bit of time to catch up on a film that I admit I somewhat overlooked.
I actually saw this move over a week ago but with the release of The Dark Knight Rises and my ensuing series of reviews, I almost completely forgot about it. If that fact alone doesn’t speak for itself regarding this movie, I think the short length of this review will. Before I saw Ice Age: Continental Drift I had only seen the first movie in the series, and my memory of it has been pretty fully glossed over by the years since its release. My only knowledge of the series’ progress has been through looking at the decreasing Rotten Tomatoes scores and watching the Trailers to the second and third installments (Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs). As the week’s only major release though, I felt like it was my duty to give it a shot and do my best to keep an open mind. While I recognize that the entire franchise is intended to serve as family friendly fluff, I still found Ice Age: Continental Drift to be an incredibly derivative entry into a genre which has received a great amount of recent proof that being kid friendly doesn’t mean your film has to be detestable to adults.
As I said, I will keep this review short as I truly don’t believe it deserves that much attention from either myself or you readers. The plot of Ice Age 4 is nothing new: Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano) and his two unlikely yet stalwart companions Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the Saber Tooth Tiger (Denis Leary) are separated from Manny’s family by the breaking apart of the continents caused by Skrat’s continue bungling of is quest to finally bury his acorn. As they attempt to return to their home, they are accosted by a band of Pirates led by the Damn, Dirty Ape Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage). Along the way, they encounter an island full of adorable lemming-like inhabitants, Diego finds love in another forlorn Saber (Jennifer Lopez) and Sid continues to be the One-Man three stooges team he has been throughout the series.
I admit that when I dislike a movie this greatly I can tend to gloss over what I did enjoy about it, so I’ll start with that lean category. I’ve always been a sucker for adorableness in animation, and the diminutive residence of what I will refer to as Lemming Island were a firm check in that particular box of my family film criteria. Also I did find myself chuckling from time to time at Sid’s Granny (Wanda Sykes), especially involving one scene of her own vision of a Siren as a hunky, instantaneous-moustache-growing sloth voiced in an all too brief Cameo by Alan Tudyk. Finally, I have always been a paleo-nerd (I actually wanted to be a paleontologist until Sophomore year of high school) and as such I’ve always appreciated the fact that pretty much every prehistoric mammal used in the series is something from the actual fossil record. The fact that somebody not only knew what a Glyptodon was but also inserted it into a series like this makes me a happy camper.
Now for the not-so-great about the movie. The main thing which ruined Tce Age 4 for me was that every single character, whether central or peripheral, felt like they were pulled from the bottom shelf of a sort of Children’s Movie Costco, by which I mean every single one felt like they were just a cheap combination or rip off of other past family films. The story line is generic as I expected, but there isn’t any sort of the wit or emotional richness which usually set animated films aside regardless of how generic their story line is. For example, Madagascar 3’s story was just as unoriginal as Ice Age 4’s yet where Madagascar 3 succeeded in actually being energetic and funny, there is nothing comparable in Ice age 4. about 90% of the jokes are just not funny, and no amount of hamming it up on the voice actor’s part was enough to reverse that lack of humor. Speaking of the voice acting, there were a few small exceptions (I absolutely love Peter Dinklage in pretty much anything he’s in) the celebrity voices are too difficult to separate from the celebrities themselves to make them work very well as animated characters. For one thing, a lot of successful celebrity voice overs have been from things like Shrek (Mike Meyers) or Despicable Me (Steve Carrell) in which the voice actor puts some sort of accent or spin on their voice to make it feel at least slightly unique. In Ice Age 4 though, whenever most characters are talking it feels like we’re just listening to Queen Latifa or Aziz Ansari rather than Ellie the Mammoth or Squint the Pirate. To cap it off, the entire story line involving Manny’s daughter Peaches feels like it is pulled straight out of an episode of a Disney channel sitcom.The voices of Drake, Nicki Minaj and Glee’s Heather Morris never fail to produce dizzying amounts of eye-rollingly stereotypical “teenage” dialogue.
The Verdict: 3.0/10 Just Plain Bad
Usually I’m a pretty optimistic moviegoer, and I try to find the positive aspects of every movie I see regardless of any prejudices I might have towards the people involved or the subject matter itself. In this Movie’s Case though I find myself hard pressed to say anything good about it, and between the awful cut-and-paste dialogue, the lack of actual humor and the laziness of the voice acting, I feel fairly comfortable in giving this movie my lowest review since I started this blog. Bottom line, your kids might enjoy this one if you have them but otherwise I would advise for you to steer clear.