Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ice Age: Continental Drift

ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, 2012)

Woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), sabre-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary), and sloths Sid (John Leguizamo), and Granny (Wanda Sykes) embark on an epic journey to return to the herd when Pangaea’s break-up separates them from their makeshift family. ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT sets the ragtag gang on a hunk of ice and sends them out to sea.

After surviving a violent storm, Manny and friends cross paths with an iceberg fashioned into a ship, but rather than this encounter leading to their rescue, it creates another set of problems.  Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), an ape so named for what he likes to do with his claws, demands they join his band of pirates or face the consequences.

Back on the mainland, Manny’s teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) wrestles with peer pressure.  She has a crush on Ethan (Drake) and wants to hang out with the cool crowd, but doing so means rejecting her molehog friend Louis (Josh Gad) and not being true to who she really is.

Directors Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier keep ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT moving at a steady clip and the various objects comin’ at ya for 3D viewers.  The action and jokes zip by with the speed of processors rendering the digital animation files.  The fourth film in the ICE AGE series is lighter in tone from the past couple entries and busy enough to give the impression that all this activity is a good time.  All that positive energy can’t distract from the fact that the filmmakers are treading water, though.  It’s a hollow simulation of what fun for the whole family looks and sounds like.

Neither the main characters nor the celebrity voice work have been distinguished in the ICE AGE films.  That’s no different this time around, but two newcomers liven things up a bit.  The resonance in Dinklage’s voice makes the villain especially fearsome.  Sykes adds much-needed looniness by imbuing Sid’s grandmother with the kind of sass projected onto the honey badger in internet memes.  

As in previous ICE AGE installments, the funniest parts of CONTINENTAL DRIFT belong to the non-speaking sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat.  Free from having to impart lessons about the importance of family or being true to oneself, Scrat can scamper about on his Sisyphean effort to get those elusive acorns.  While Scrat’s interstitial scenes are beginning to get stale, they still have the cartoon silliness and cleverness found wanting in the main story.

Grade: C

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