There is a quality four-minute ‘Simpsons’ episode in 3D, starring the baby Maggie Simpson, which precedes this film. It is cute, original, clever, amusing, and all the things Ice Age: Continental Drift strives to be, without quite making the drift.
This being the fourth installment in the Ice Age franchise, one can forgive Continental Drift for lacking in complete originality but the film on the whole, aside from a few genuine laughs and some well animated scenes, feels quite stale with the usual cast of animal characters getting involved in their overly familiar shenanigans for the umpteenth time. Worse still is how annoyingly dumb some of these characters are, to the point where you hope they meet the euthanising end of a syringe soon.
The film, of course, is set in the cataclysmic closing stages of the ice-age and features Manny (Ray Romano) the wooly mammoth, Sid (John Leguizamo) the sloth, and Diego (Denis Leary) the saber-tooth cat. These characters, along with Sid’s grandmother who inexplicably sounds like an irritating African-American stereotype, drift apart from their herd when there is a break in the ice, leaving them floating a vast distance away. The herd left behind, agonisingly for Manny, includes his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and their teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer).
As Manny and his team try to find their way home, they battle Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), a prehistoric ape who fashions himself as a pirate, riding an iceberg that functions as a ship, complete with a crew of goofy animal shipmates, some of whom are quite amusing. This crew also happens to include another saber-tooth cat, Shira (Jennifer Lopez), who immediately finds chemistry with Diego. Here, our heroes are assisted by a huge army of hamsters, who are as cute as they are little and add some humor to the film.
There is a social message in Continental Drift for teenage girls about staying true to themselves rather than giving in to peer pressure. Peaches struggles with her attraction to another teenaged wooly mammoth named Ethan (Drake), who, and I kid you not, socialises with friends that sound exactly like the cast of Jersey Shore, which for the unfamiliar is the most numb-skulled reality-show on television.
Continental Drift is unfortunately quite formulaic and lacks the subtlety of the first film, with an overabundance of modern American cultural elements designed to appeal to the masses. This unfortunately is also true for the film’s voice acting, with the cast sounding like their celebrity selves without doing much ‘acting’. For them, like for 20th Century Fox, it seems that Ice Age 4 was a cheque in the bank and little else.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 8th, 2012.
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