Review: Ice Age: Continental Drift


Have you seen any of the previous three Ice Age movies? If you have, you know exactly what you’re getting into when it comes to Ice Age: Continental Drift. Your three furry heroes have a journey to make across a pre-historic landscape, hi-jinks ensue, there’s a song, and some hip hop starS show up to provide a handful of voices to some ancillary characters.

There’s not a lot to the fourth entry in the Ice Age franchise, and they’re running out of ecological disasters, short of suddenly having to deal with human industrialization, and what’s here is pretty bland and predictable.

Scrat’s still the best part, though. Also, there’s a Simpsons short preceding the movie, which I’ll give a mini-review to after finishing with Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Directors: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeir
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: July 13th, 2012

Manny (Ray Romano) and his new wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) welcomed their new daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) into the world at the end of the third movie, and now Manny is an over-protective father to his daughter, who just wants to explore and make new friends. Sid (John Leguizamo) suddenly finds himself caring for his insane, doddering Granny (Wanda Sykes), and Denis Leary is wondering what he has to do to get out of the contract he signed to play Diego the saber-toothed cat for the rest of his life. Thanks to the acorn-hungry Scrat, the world’s sole continent is splitting off into the formations we know today, and Manny and his two friends get separated from the rest of the pack, floating off to sea. In order to get back home, they have to contend with a group of animal pirates led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage in the definition of “making sure the check clears and heading home”). Diego gets a love interest voiced by Jennifer Lopez, and ninety minutes later, everyone’s happy again, except for the bad guy. 

This is going to be a remarkably short review because, as I previously mentioned, there really isn’t a lot to say here. The Ice Age franchise has managed to break out of the trilogy model, so there’s props to be had there, but the seams are starting to burst. Now that the intrepid trio of Manny, Diego, and Sid have survived the splitting of Pangea into our various continents, what more can they do? The writers seems to be falling victim to this level of story fatigue as well, as the old worn hat of “fuck it, let’s throw in some pirates” has been trotted out just in time to give the film just enough oomph to limp across the finish line without being too tedious.

As it stands, you won’t find yourself in crippling psychological pain when watching Ice Age: Continental Drift. Whenever Scrat’s on screen, things turn into a modern episode of Wile E. Coyote as Scrat follows a treasure map to a land filled with precious acorns. It’s some of the best physical comedy you’re likely to find in a CG animated movie this year, stuff that parents are going to enjoy just as much as their kids. The rest is pretty bland and safe comedy. I chuckled once in a while, but most of the jokes fell pretty flat. Someone also thought it’d be fun to give Captain Gutt a pirate shanty villain song, which sounds fun in theory, but the execution is a minute and a half of further tedium set to song. Gutt’s definitely no Rattigan.

There are, of course, some vaguely uplifting themes involving the importance of family and giving your children some room to breathe as they get older, but that sort of thing’s a dime a dozen when it comes to children’s movies. I know not everyone can be Pixar, but is it really so hard to try and tell a different story once in a while? I think I’ve seen “animal character X learns about the importance of family” about ten thousand million times by now. I know there’s only seven stories in the world, but there’s got to be some level of variation they can be trying here.

Overall, when your children inevitably drag you to Ice Age: Continental Drift, things move quick enough that you won’t be constantly tempted to pull out your smartphone and ruin someone else’s day, and your kids are liable to enjoy it if they’ve been enjoying the other movies. Odds are, though, since the first Ice Age came out in 2002, your kids that grew up with Ice Age have probably out grown it.

As mentioned, included with the film is the Simpsons short The Longest Daycare, which proves the best Simpsons work is only possible on the big screen these days. Left at daycare, Maggie finds herself having to protect a caterpillar, trying to metamorphose into a butterfly, from the villainous unibrow baby Gerald. What follows is a frantic chase through the Ayn Rand School for Tots filled with the trademark Simpsons background visual jokes and random references. I’m pretty sure there’s even some I Pagliacci in there. When Fox inevitably posts it online, it’s definitely worth checking out, but I’d not pay a full price movie ticket just to see it with Ice Age

Matthew Razak – Ice Age: Continental Drift couldn’t be any more middle of the road if it was a yellow line. Remember the last three Ice Age films? Then you’ve seen this one. The franchise hasn’t really done anything new since after the second movie and this one is no different. Manny has family trouble, Diego pretends to be tough and Sid once again learns that he’s not a total screw up. That being said, Ice Age does Ice Age really well. The kids will love the humor, the characters are just as charming despite being redundant and the animation is as solid as ever. If you or more likely your children are up for watching the same movie again then Ice Age is that same movie you should go see. 50 – Average