Review: Ice Age: Continental Drift
Suspension of disbelief can be quite valuable in movies with sloppy science, but there's still a moveable line that may be crossed depending on the viewer's tolerance levels. Accepting talking insects in A Bug's Life poses no concern whatsoever, but the absence of a third pair of legs on the ants outraged many viewers I know who have a scientific background.
The Ice Age series also tests the tolerance level of both educated viewers and parents who prefer their children be exposed to entertainment that doesn't conflict with their school lessons. Ice Age: Continental Drift exaggerates the evolutionary theory of catastrophism even further than the wildly debated The Day After Tomorrow and disaster pornographic 2012.
In this animated film, Scrat's (Aziz Ansari) pursuit of the elusive acorn triggers a transcontinental cataclysm, separating Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) from the rest of their rag-tag herd. Sid is stuck with his crotchety and toothless Granny (Wanda Sykes) who has a tendency to wander off frequently. The group must get to the Land Bridge to reunite, but on their journey they encounter danger in the form of sirens, giant crabs, and a gang of pirates on an ice ship under the command of the cruel Captain Gut (Peter Dinklage).
Meanwhile, Ellie (Queen Latifah) and teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) must travel to their designated rendezvous point, accompanied by the cute and doting mole Louis (voiced by Josh Gad) and other animals. Peaches is distraught because her last words to her father were unkind -- the chronically anxiety-ridden Manny embarrassed her in front of the "cool kid" mammoths (Drake and Nicki Minaj).
The dialogue in Ice Age: Continental Drift is quite uneven, with the wittiest lines reserved for Granny and Sid. Interjected scenes with Scrat are a nice reprieve from the overly complicated storyline and fast pacing, which includes an onslaught of sight gags. The theme of "the importance of family" is a bit heavy-handed, as is the violent nature of Captain Gut and his motley crew. In addition to the big names in the returning cast, Jennifer Lopez also voices supporting character Shira, first mate to Captain Gut. Lopez's performance is fairly standard -- Sykes and Leguizamo are the forerunners in this ensemble cast.
The spectacular CGI and special effects in Ice Age: Continental Drift include incredibly realistic ice, rising waves and shifting continental plates. Unfortunately, I found the over-anthromorphized attributes of the characters including Peaches' hair and the vernacular of the "cool kids" to be quite distracting.
Despite its PG rating and family-related theme, I didn't find Ice Age: Continental Drift to be suitable for young and impressionable children. Between the violent nature of the pirate crew, sloppy science and the rebellious teenage daughter, parents may find that this cinematic flotsam would be better left for older audiences. I would recommend waiting until this movie is available on cable or video-on-demand rental before adding it to your home video library.
Special feature: A 3D short about The Simpsons, The Longest Daycare, precedes the latest installment of Ice Age. Baby Maggie Simpson must keep a butterfly safe from a baby bully at her daycare. Despite the lack of dialogue, this mildly dark humorous short film also touches the heart. I enjoyed this short film much more than the feature presentation.