Talking Movies

June 28, 2016

Ice Age: Collision Course

Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the sabre-tooth tiger (Denis Leary), are enlisted by weasel Buck (Simon Pegg) to face down an apocalyptic asteroid.

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Scrat the sabre-tooth squirrel, engaged in monomaniacal pursuit of an acorn as ever, is now mucking about in outer space; ruining Mars and producing some choice deus ex machina moments on earth, while making nonsense of logic and physics in the best Roadrunner and Wily Coyote manner. Meanwhile on Earth, Manny and Ellie (Queen Latifah) are fretting over daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) leaving home as soon as she marries idiotically enthusiastic Julian (Adam Devine, channelling his Modern Family role), wedding planner Sid is pining for a mate of his own, and Diego and Shira (Jennifer Lopez) are worrying whether they’d be good parents. These troubles become moot when a meteor shower heralds an extinction level asteroid, but not to fear – deranged swashbuckling weasel Buck has an improbable plan! If only he could keep some vengeful dino-birds off his back…

Buck is introduced anew with possibly the most unlikely musical number imaginable, new lyrics to the tune of ‘Figaro’s Aria’ from Rossini’s Barber of Seville; which turn it almost into a Gilbert & Sullivan jape. Nick Offerman drolly voices the dino-bird patriarch disapproving of his weakling son Max Greenfield, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson enjoys himself as the snooty Shangri Llama. There’s an amusing cameo from Neil deGrasse Tyson as a voice in Buck’s mind, but overall there’s not quite as many laughs as you’d like. Having said which the central arc of parental disapproval is infinitely preferable to Ice Age: Continental Drift’s incredibly unsubtle and irritating arc involving Peaches and the too cool for school mammoths she desperately wants to befriend. Whereas the dialogue and voicing of those scenes was excruciating, nothing in Ice Age: Collision Course is ever obnoxious.

It is curious to have arrived at Ice Age 5 14 years after the original. 5 year olds who enjoyed the first movie are now 19 year olds, think about that. Michael J Wilson, who wrote the 2002 story, returns for the first time to script with Michael Berg and Yoni Brenner. Brenner previously wrote on the dinosaur instalment, while Berg is institutional memory having only missed writing the second movie. Perhaps this writers’ reunion explains why the tasteless mining of Granny sloth’s Alzheimer’s for comedy has been quietly forgotten, but also why fantastic wordplay has largely disappeared; a situation not helped by ‘Son of a Birch Tree!’, featured in TV spots, being cut. But such are the necessary compromises, after all Jessie J voices a female sloth almost purely to allow her belt out a song in the finale.

Ice Age 5 is a moderately amusing kid’s film which includes just enough for parents, including a blink and you miss it POTA gag.

3/5

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June 27, 2012

Ice Age 4

The animated misfits Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabre-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) find themselves cast adrift on the open seas battling pirates.

Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel, still engaged in a monomaniacal hunt for acorns, provides the plot of the film by accidentally causing continental drift by mucking about with earth’s core. He falls into the earth’s core by way of elevator muzak playing over a geological chart, a sublimely stupid sight gag. Scrat is a character as deliriously wonderful in his eternal recurrence as Roadrunner and Wily Coyote, but sadly he can’t carry a whole film. And so we have the main plot wherein Manny’s protective parenting leads to a falling out with his daughter Peaches, who says horrible things to him just before the continents breaking apart separates Manny from his family. Manny swears to return but he, Diego and Sid float out to sea on a sort of iceberg where they fall foul of the vicious monkey pirate Captain Gut.

Peter Dinklage voices Gut with some panache, and leads a musical number explaining his pirate life which is quite fun, but overall the laughs don’t come as frequently in this movie as you’d like. All the scenes involving Peaches, Lewis, and the too cool for school mammoths she desperately wants to befriend are quite irritating to watch as the by the numbers script is every bit as computer generated as the animation bringing it to life. It’s hard to know which is more excruciating, the dialogue or the vocal stylings of the cast playing these teen characters. The message it hammers home is incredibly unsubtle even by CGI animation standards and might as well have ‘character arc’ and ‘life lesson’ flashing up on screen. Against this is surprisingly effective voice casting like Jennifer Lopez as Gut’s loyal sabre-toothed tiger Sheera.

Ice Age 4 is a curious beast. Sid summarises Ice Age 3 for his long-lost grandmother with the words, “We fought dinosaurs in the Ice Age. It didn’t make any sense but it was sure exciting,” and Nick Frost has a lot of fun as Flint the idiotic pirate seal, playing a major part in delivering some fantastic wordplays which are the smartest jokes in the movie. Against this sophistication there’s the quite tasteless depiction of Sid’s grandmother who is effectively suffering from Alzheimer’s but is considered therefore to be a goldmine for comedy. If you think Diego’s retort to her search for Precious, “No I have not seen your imaginary or deceased pet,” is funny then you won’t have a problem with this characterisation by Wanda Sykes. The emphasis on teenage problems is also baffling for a kid’s film.

Ice Age 4 has odd touches but it’s far more likeable than its accompanying Maggie Simpson short, written by a farcically large writing team.

2.5/5

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