What is going on with the state of animation in this day and age? It seems that if your studio isn’t named PIXAR, then your animated films are a notch about home video/Nickelodeon premieres. So it is with Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. I remember liking the original Ice Age but I haven’t seen it since it hit theaters so I can’t be accurate on that statement, since then I haven’t had any interest in the others. With the low expectations I had did I enjoy this more than the latest Madagascar, yes because I knew the characters…but that was it. There’s no humor, warmth, or soul in this film and aside from the Simpson’s short at the beginning, I forget this film as soon as I left the theater.
The Ice Age characters get into greater danger when loveable Scrat, in pursuit of his acorn, causes the continents to form. With the world splitting Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) and his friends are separated from their friends and family, leaving them to find a way home.
Let’s give this movie some praise for including a Simpson’s short in front of it. “The Longest Daycare” is a sweet story involving Baby Maggie trying to free a butterfly. What’s sad is I remembered this short beyond leaving the theater; it has more heart and humor than the movie that comes after it! Ice Age 4 continues to provide the core characters I remember from the first: Manny, saber-toothed tiger Diego (voiced by Dennis Leary), Scrat, and whatever Sid (John Leguizamo) is. When the film rests on their friendship and struggles you can hear the cast having fun. There’s an established relationship and rapport that comes off with the characters. Peter Dinklage also gets praise for playing pirate Captain Gutt because Dinklage is awesome!
Sadly that’s not featured as the film feels like a series of vignettes, there’s a lot of different pieces. Not only do Scrat and the three friends have a story, but Manny’s wife Ellie and daughter Peaches (voiced by Queen Latifah and Keke Palmer respectively) have stories. The worst story involves teenage Peaches as her story is ripped from Writing Teenagers 101. There’s nothing fun or original, it’s just a series of a girl mammoth whining about life and trying to be cool. To add insult to the plot is that singers Drake and Nicki Minaj voice two of the teenage mammoths causing me to wonder if they truly think young kids are going to find them impressive, or that parents will think they’re appropriate voice actors for a kid’s film. On top of that Minaj’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard!
There’s really nothing else to say about Ice Age 4. The story makes no sense to me. I know kids won’t ask but what time period are we in that these animals are lasting so long? The relationships between the core trio is good but adding the superfluous family pads the runtime and is “been there, done that.” Even the animation isn’t recommended. It’s as good as the first one but considering the leaps and bounds of the industry that’s not high praise. It’ll be fun for little kids who have seen the others but anyone else above the age of seven is going to be bored.