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Ice Age

Starring Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary; Goran Visnjic
Screenplay by Michael Berg and Peter Ackerman
Directed by Chris Wedge

IN SHORT: Delirious fun. [Rated PG for mild peril. 75 minutes]

We screened Ice Age twice before this writing. Once in a screening room filled with critics, not the best place to see a comedy, and again with our nieces and nephews. There's plenty in the flick for both demographics and it stood up well on second view. The limited time availability Munchy Mammoth Cookie ice cream is pretty tasty, too.

Tipping its hat to sources as diverse as Dr. Seuss, 1950 era SF movies, Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics and the now departed Chuck Jones' perpetually doomed character Wile E. Coyote, Ice Age is the kind of popcorn 'toon we like to settle in for, whether it be on the big screen or small. Smushing all the prehistoric eras together into one, director Chris Wedge has smoothly melded two kinds of films together into one. The first is a slap your sides comedy. The second is a sentimental bonding flick and both of 'em take place approximately two hundred million years ago, somewhere in what would now be called France.

As the huge glaciers creep down on what passes for the civilized world, all things great and small head south to warmer climes. Our star, Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), is on the same path when he oversleeps and finds his herd gone without him. What's worse is that he's ticked off a pair of Rhinoceroses along the way. These feeble minded brutes are more than willing to forsake their vegan ways to pursue Sid, with intent of snapping a neckbone or two. The unwilling protector to the Sloth is Manfred the Mammoth (Ray Romano), a down in the dumps kinda guy who, unlike the entire civilized world, is heading North.

Manny doesn't want Sid's company but there's something about the little guy that's just annoying as all get out. You couldn't beat him off with a stick ... you could beat him with a stick, sure, but he wouldn't go anywhere ... so this wrong way pair keep going, uh, the wrong way. Somewhere off to the side, a pack of sabertooth tigers have attacked a human encampment, intent on scarfing up babies for breakfast. Their target gets away and, as a result, pack leader Santo (Goran Visnjic) assigns lackey Diego (Denis Leary) to bring the kidlet back for lunch.

The climate being what it will, our band must forge a partnership to survive. Manny's got an agenda. Diego's got an agenda. Sid needs a heavy dose of Ritalin and the baby is a poop joke waiting to happen. As warm and fuzzy as it all gets by its end, Ice Age kept surprising us with visual gags that went right over the heads of the kidlets we schlepped to the screening. Just the way we like it.

The computer animation looks pretty good, considering the limited range of color allowed by the frozen environment. Once upon a time we wrote about the difficulty of animating water and we'll advance that now by complimenting the Blue Sky team on their beautifully animated glacier ice. Shimmering, glimmering gorgeous work. Also out of the norm is the seemingly triangular build to all the characters, which we found quite interesting and attention getting, and the utter lack of a dominating song soundtrack. Only one song in the entire body of the work. Fine by us.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Ice Age, he would have paid . . .


The film opens, and is spaced by, the adventures of a cursed creature named Scrat (voiced by Wedge), looking for a place to stash his nut. Scrat is this film's Wile E. Coyote and pops up every time we need a good laugh between scenes of danger and/or sentimentality.

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