Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) Film Review, a movie directed by Steve Martino and starring Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Peter Dinklage, Wanda Sykes, Drake, and Nicki Minaj.
It’s hard to believe Ray Romano has been playing the same benevolently aloof dad character for almost 20 years now, but at least he’s got his shtick down to a science. In Ice Age: Continental Drift, he reprises the character Manny the Mammoth, while tapping into the persona that everybody loves. The result is a bland, if not consistent, film that’s more or less exactly what you’d expect from the 4th episode in a franchise that just turned 10 years old.
In the movie, Manny is forced to come to terms with the fact that his daughter Allie, excuse me, his daughter Peaches, is growing up all too quickly. He tries to preserve her youth by acting out as the stock protective father (spoiler: woolly mammoths are extinct), and of course it only serves to drive them further apart. Parents just don’t understand. Yawn.
True to the movie’s title, their relationship is not the only thing becoming fractured. The continents are splitting up, causing chaos in the assorted prehistoric animal community. While it might not be the most accurate representation, this is a kids movie. I think that any exposure to science for kids is great, and even though Pangaea is more theory than fact, sometimes it’s better to be wrong and initiate a discussion than bash little kids over the head with facts and figures. Indeed the movie does this a lot, and while it bothered me at first, I suppose that it is a nice way to get children interested. There are various references to Greek mythology, as well as a comic nod to the ancient city of Atlantis (also not proven), and even though they don’t always make the most sense in the context of the movie, at least with ticket prices as high as they are you get a little education for your money.
Overall the actual story is pretty dull. It has it’s ups and downs, and the animation is still fresh and even exciting at times, but this cash cow is clearly running out of milk. Studios love animated movies because they are so much cheaper to produce, and the marketing opportunities dwarf their live action counterparts. While not as rotten as some other “for profit” films out there, Ice Age 4 is not at the head of the pack either.
As far the voice acting, it runs the gamut from entertaining to borderline distracting. The main cast – Romano, Dennis Leary, and John Leguizamo – are all seasoned veterans and it shows. Wanda Sykes is a pleasant surprise as “Granny” (in more ways than one). Jennifer Lopez had done voice over work only once before in Antz, so perhaps it’s the fact that she uses her voice for a living that she does not miss a beat. On the other hand there are pop stars like Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Heather Morris voicing characters only on the basis of their name recognition. Peter Dinklage was a disappointment, notably in a bizarre musical number that left much to be desired. Dinklage as an actor is undoubtedly a true talent; as a voice actor he has some work to do before his next foray into the animation world.
As a complete work, the movie is just OK. It’s not so predictable that I was falling asleep, but the only thing really groundbreaking in this film are the little chunks of ice the characters float around on. The story probably won’t be boring for children but adults might want to bring a book. As far as a PG rating, there are some scenes that lean towards being a touch violent, and some scenes also where the villains may be a little scary – I would recommend leaving anyone under 7 or 8 at home. Everybody might not love Ice Age: Continental Drift, but there are worse ways to spend a rainy summer afternoon.