Now that we have improbably reached the fourth installment in the Ice Age franchise, can we just acknowledge that these features are little more than a Scrat delivery system?
The little critter has always been the star attraction of the features, primarily because his forever-doomed acorn quests brought an anarchic Looney Tunes energy to stories that were otherwise rote animation nonsense, recycling sitcom situations with the central trio of Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabertooth tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo). Now, with Ice Age: Continental Drift, they’re even recycling Scrat, pasting the “Continental Crack-Up” short from a couple of years ago onto this feature as its prologue.
It doesn’t get much better from there, as the narrative splinters to give every character something to worry about as catastrophic tectonic behavior separates them. Manny frets over his daughter Peaches’ (Keke Palmer) teenage behavior. Peaches tries to fit in with cooler friends. Diego falls for a female sabertooth (Jennifer Lopez) who’s one of the crew members of a pirate ice floe led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage). Sid has his kooky grandmother (Wanda Sykes) dropped in his lap. It’s like they turned the plotting over to Roland Emmerich.
Without anything remotely interesting going on in the main stories, it becomes even more clear how tedious these characters are, especially when we know there could be a few minutes of Scrat around every corner. There are precious few of those minutes, unfortunately, though there are still more laughs to be found from revisiting those opening few minutes than there are in the entire rest of the non-Scrat film. It’s almost cruel that you need to buy a ticket to see the great Maggie Simpson short with which it’s being packaged. Then again, it’s pretty much expected at this point that 90 percent of Ice Age is just going to remind that you’d rather be watching something else.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT
Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo