Review Date: March 25, 2002
Director: Chris Wedge
Writer: Michael Berg, Michael Wilson, Peter Ackerman
Producers: Lori Forte
Ray Romano as Mandfred
John Leguizamo as Sid
Denis Leary as Diego
A big-ass mammoth, a wise-cracking sloth and an enigmatic sabretooth tiger find a human baby and make it their mission to return the child to its family. Misadventures ensue.
An okay cartoon flick, with solid, although not extraordinary, animation, a so-so story which starts off slowly but ultimately builds into something more meaningful and plenty of laughs via one of the goofy, secondary characters, voiced ideally by John Leguizamo. The thing that I liked best about this film is that it had a deeper message than most of the big-time animated movies from the past few years, and it wasn't afraid to coax some tears out of the audience during its final, and certainly most impressive, act (no wetworks for me this time around, although I came pretty damn close). The message is about family, friendship, honor, equality and the sense of community with your fellow man (or fellow mammal). The points were all well established in the film and developed throughout. The main problem that I had with this movie, which was kind of similar to Disney's DINOSAUR in 2000, was that there really wasn't much of a story or many consistently big laughs. The general idea behind the film is that you've got a group of animals trekking across mountains, deserts, ice patches and snowstorms, but the driving force behind it isn't all that interesting (they're returning a human kid to its parents- whoopdeedoo!). I guess the idea was to provide for enough visual gags and one-liners from the leads to make up for the half-assed story, but even though the sloth character does deliver a few doozies, the film's first half just takes too long to get going and ultimately didn't pull me in entirely.
Luckily, the second half picks up the pace with a fun ice-slide sequence, a well-directed slow-motion "fight" scene featuring the sloth vs a bunch of dodo birds and more emotion all around. I also didn't think the prehistoric squirrel attempting to bury his acorn throughout the movie (and the original teaser trailer) was very funny, but I have to admit that the "joke" finally worked for me in the film's final scene (it's apparent that the filmmakers believed this character to be a winner, so they milked the joke until you just couldn't help but dig it, I suppose). Having said that, most others in the audience seemed to enjoy his goofy antics. As for the voice actors, Leguizamo definitely saved the film from being a lonelier passage, and even though the rest of the voice cast was decent, there wasn't anyone else to particularly write home about. Overall, I would recommend this film more to kids than adults (despite a couple of inside jokes here and there), but certainly wouldn't advise it to anyone looking for originality or something revolutionary. It's funny at times, it brings home a nice message and provides for some solid animation, but it definitely didn't blow my socks off, so do with that...what you will.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian