By now, it's almost unthinkable to even consider the idea that the folks involved with the Ice Age
films would have anything original to say in Ice Age: Continental Drift,
the fourth Ice Age
Indeed, there's nothing particularly new nor exciting nor brilliant nor inspired about Continental Drift.
Yet, the film remains faithful enough to its cinematic roots that those who've enjoyed the first three films in the series, and that's a lot of people considering the films have racked up $1.2 billion in box-office, are just as likely to find themselves enjoying or at least appreciating this effort.
Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the Sabertooth Tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) encounter Pirate Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) when he climbs aboard an iceberg they're using to escape the ever present continentel, 'um, drift. Manny is trying to get back to land to reach his wife (Queen Latifah) and daughter (Keke Palmer), but Captain Gutt has other ideas. Throw in a love story for Diego involving Captain Gutt's first mate (Jennifer Lopez), and you have the year's second animated feature to take to the high seas with mediocre results.
Of course, the average ten-year-old attending Ice Age: Continental Drift
won't likely even know that this is the second animated adventure on the high seas this year. They also aren't likely to realize that this is the fourth of the Ice Age
films nor will they be obsessed with the idea that Ice Age 4
isn't that much different from the first Ice Age
with the slight difference of being a tad on the edgier side and less concerned with pop culture references.
While the Ice Age
will never be accused of animated mastery, they pale in comparison to the Pixar or DreamWorks films, they are harmless enough and entertaining enough to capture the attention of most children and, along the way, they do manage to throw in some lessons that may prove to be valuable on some level.
The real highlight, I dare say, of Continental Drift
is that it is preceded by a delightful nearly five-minute Simpsons
short that is far more imaginative and entertaining than anything found in Ice Age: Continental Drift.
With the exception of Scrat, which may qualify as one of this generation's true animated cult figures, there's not much about Continental Drift
that will linger in your psyche' after the credits have rolled.
In addition to all the regulars from Ice Age
returning and the newcomers already mentioned, you may find yourself recognizing the likes of Drake, Nicki Minaj (Seriously, will someone tell me how she became famous?), Patrick Stewart and Wandy Sykes, who is about the only one here to actually leave an impression.
Let's face it. Wanda Sykes always leaves an impression.
Blue Sky's animation is expressive and energized if not nearly as impressive nor detailed as that of Pixar. The film is easily better than Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,
a reckless mishmash that likely led to more than one child flunking a science class thanks to its prehistoric history lesson run amok. There's no question that Continental Drift
also takes liberties with fact, but it does so in a way that feels less absurd and more entertaining.
There's also a few rather absurd yet fun scenes in the film that you can't help but surrender to, including a rather delightful pirate musical tune that is completely out of place but also ridiculously fun. Peter Dinklage, as always seems to be true, is a complete joy as the bad Captain Gutt.
When it comes down to it, Ice Age: Continental Drift
isn't much more than a paint-by-numbers animated feature with a positive, pro-family message that is overtly preachy yet clearly designed to reach the kids in that very way. It's entertaining enough that adults will likely consider it worth tolerating to make the kiddoes happy, while the kids will once again absolutely the animals, the high seas and, well, who doesn't love pirates?
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic