Review: Ice Age Continental Drift
PLOT: After the world begins to change, Manny the Woolly Mammoth and his family are separated from each other. This happens right after a family argument regarding his daughter Peaches seeing the wrong kind of beast. Will they find each other safely in this ever-evolving world and will they finally be able to accept that their little girl is all grown up? I think you may have an idea that things don’t get too dark in ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT.
Aside from the first ICE AGE, the series has failed to really create something special. Whether they are dealing with a nervous little critter named Scrat (Chris Wedge) going for that single acorn, or the family dynamics of Manny the Woolly Mammoth (Ray Romano) and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah), you know exactly what you are getting. Yet the past two films rarely delivered much more than a laugh or two beyond it’s played out family friendly fable. This was especially evident in the depressingly dull DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS. Yet ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT retains some of the inventiveness which played out in the original film. Focusing more on a family divided – literally and figuratively – this latest installment offers a slight hint of charm.
The story begins as Manny and Ellie find that raising a teenage daughter is a very difficult thing to do. While looking for a little freedom, their little girl Peaches (Keke Palmer) winds up making an impression on local cool mammoth Ethan (hip hop artist extraordinaire Drake). Yet when dear old dad manages to embarrass his daughter in front of the animals, a family feud begins. The tearing apart of the familial unit becomes the real deal thanks to that damn Scrat who somehow fell down to the center of the world chasing an acorn. Sure you have to deal with suspension of disbelief in cartoons, but seriously? So many questions just from that character alone.
As much as ICE AGE relies on some of the same tired elements from the first three films, the domestic approach was surprisingly effective this time. Both Latifah and Romano are able to give life to their frustrated mom and dad and even Palmer gives the rebellious daughter a little spirit. In fact, the cast connects quite well here. Denis Leary is effective as Diego, a cheetah with heart. John Leguizamo is suitably annoying as a Sloth named Sid. And newcomer to the series, Peter Dinklage is one heck of a bad guy as “monkey pirate” Captain Gutt. A few other notable names include Simon Pegg and his best bud Nick Frost, Nicki Minaj, Wanda Sykes and of course, Jennifer Lopez as a love interest for Leary’s Diego.
At times, the story here feels like the animated version of the disaster flick THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. Thanks to that damn acorn, Scrat has thrown the world into a tailspin. With the everything crashing down around them, Manny is separated from his daughter and wife. He attempts to search for them with seemingly little hope… who am I kidding, this is an ICE AGE movie, everything will be fine. Even still, the ice and ground beneath them breaks open leaving the characters desperately searching for the one thing that holds it all together! That’s right, it’s all about family. As sticky sweet as this message may be, at least the script by Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs packs a little more humor than that of DINOSAURS.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT is a better than average installment in the ICE AGE franchise. This time around, the focus on family worked a bit smarter with the disaster movie angle made extra safe for the younger ones. There is nothing too scary here as it is all kept very light aside from when they are first separated. While the look of DRIFT is in fine form much like the previous films, the 3D is completely unnecessary aside from an interesting shot or two. If you can’t help but fall for that little Scrat critter, then you may have a fun time with this animated adventure.