Rated PG for mild rude humor and action/peril.
Starring (voices of) Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Keke Palmer, Chris Wedge, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Drake, Nicki Minaj.
Written by Michael Berg, Jason Fuchs, Mike Reiss.
Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier.
Seriously, I've lost count of how many Ice Age films there have been. Maybe that's why 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios dropped the numbers 3 and 4 from the titles of the latest movies in the computer-animated series. I reckon that as the numbers get higher in a series, the less important the films seem, much like the Land Before Time series (I think they're somewhere in the low 30s by now). No matter how many more Ice Age films they decide to produce, I always try to keep an open mind and give them a fair look before passing judgement. Such is the case for Ice Age: Continental Drift.
The same voice gang is back, with Ray Romano as Manny the wooly mammoth, John Leguizamo as Sid the sloth, Denis Leary as Diego the saber tooth tiger, and Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie.
The story begins as Manny and Ellie deal with their teen aged daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), who struggles to fit in with the cool teen mammoths while maintaining a plutoanic relationship with the nerdy Louis the molehog (Josh Gad). Just as Sid's family drops off his granny (Wanda Sykes) and splits, the earth's crust begins to shift, sending Manny, Sid, Diego and Granny adrift on an iceberg as the rest of the prehistoric creatures race toward a land bridge and apparent safety.
The cause of the continental drift is credited to Scrat (Chris Wedge), a prehistoric squirrel of sorts on his never-ending pursuit of an elusive acorn - as seen in the short film Continental Crack Up, released with Rio. As the main characters drift away from their families, Scrat chances upon a map that will lead him to an acorn paradise.
As the ocean current sends Manny and Co. further out to sea, they encounter a group of pirates, led by the ape Captain Gut (Peter Dinklage). One of the pirates is the lovely female saber tooth Shira (Jennifer Lopez), who does not get along with the castaways, especially Diego (Gee, I wonder if they are meant for each other?).
As the heroes battle the pirates and try to get back to the mainland, they must learn to trust each other and work as a team. Scrat also proves that if you pull the plug on a tropical paradise, you could end up in the deserts of Utah.
Ice Age: Continental Drift is an adequate progression in the series, not much better but certainly no worse than its predecessors. The schtick is the same, with Sid's bad hygiene and diminished mental capacity, Manny's neurosis, and Deigo's tough-guy persona. Wanda Sykes steals most of the laughs as the geriatric granny sloth, but much of that humor is your garden-variety potty humor.
The quality of the animation has improved since the first Ice Age came out in 2002. Blue Sky seems to be getting a slight foothold in the computerized animation market with the success of the Ice Age franchise, 2005's Robots, 2008's Horton Hears a Who and last year's Rio. They aren't quite there with the likes of Dreamworks, Disney or Pixar, but it's certainly getting closer.
The good news for 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky is that their main market (little children) will more than likely embrace Continental Drift, and demand that their parents take them to see one of only a few films marketed for their age group in a summer full of big-budget superhero films, crime dramas and cookie cutter romantic comedies.