While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
S2E7: This week’s Shameless wound a little out of control. We needed more on the Steve/Jimmy issue; we needed more on the Ethel disappearance; we needed more on Peggy and the squabble between Ian and Lip. Did we need to get all that in depth on Jody’s sexual issues? Did we need more about Stan’s tendencies to walk around the Alibi Room naked? Did we need Jasmine’s lesbian kiss? Probably not. Part of the charm of Shameless is the mercilessly kinetic storylines that intertwine in each episode, but just because the writers can tackle too many storylines in one go doesn’t mean they should. This week’s episode was an example of one that should have just kept it a little simpler. Not to mention the fact that the more time we spend trying to make sense of everyone’s miscellaneous little stories, the less time we have to stay emotionally involved with our original hook: Fiona and Steve. All this commotion makes the tormented heart of it all seem like an afterthought.
“She’s eally putting a damper on your drink, puke, sleep schedule?” –Fiona
Frank can’t take Peggy anymore. He’s tired of giving her sponge baths, taking her to the Indian casino, and making her breakfast. He tries to convince her to move out on her own, but she won’t. Plus, Fiona wants Peggy to stay – the kids like her, she buys them things. But, the cards quickly stack up against her: she sees that Carl is a struggling student and enlists him to help her procure Sudafed to make meth.
When an explosion in the “lab” wakes her up, Fiona has had it. She tells Frank he’s right and they unite once again – as they only can in the face of evil like Peggy – and make a plan to set her up. They’ll call the cops and get her admitted to the psych ward, where she surely won’t be let out. Collusion between Frank and Fiona – though unthinkable – is what it takes to get rid of Peggy. There’s just one small problem: she actually has cancer, and after she collapses at the supermarket, they need to put her in a home. We can be sure that’s not going to over well. This storyline is an uncomfortable one, but it’s great in that is really seems to unite Frank and Fiona – and it forces Frank to be a part of his family for at least a little while. Oh, and there’s the part where he’s not constantly waking up in his own puke. That’s a bonus too.
“It’s not like Ethel was our real kid, she was our job.” –V
V is being rather callous about losing Ethel – I believe the term she used was something like “ungrateful b---h,” but Kev says Ethel was family. They get a bunny to help him feel better, but he’s completely torn up. He’s even sleeping in Ethel’s old bed. Ethel sends Kev a postcard that says she’s having a good time in Kansas and it drives him nuts. So when Kev and V join Fiona at the boat party, it’s only a matter of time before the topic sends them into a full-on fight. Later, when V accidentally loses the bunny, she breaks down and admits she loves Ethel and she blames herself for her running away. Kev, being the perfect fake husband he is, tells her that’s nonsense and suddenly, they’re talking about having a baby of their own – something that would certainly be a welcome storyline in my book. Though, I do grow a little weary of Kev and V always making up by the end of the episode – let them get a little messy for once. They’re too perfect and it throws me off when everything else on the show is disjointed.
Speaking of disjointed, for some reason, the Ethel plot is complicated by Kev’s issue with Stan, the owner of the Alibi Room. He keeps showing his senility – coming downstairs naked, letting the tub overflow, leaving the stove on – and Kev is forced to find an option for the ailing old man. And we get a fairly simple, easy solution: they break him into V’s old folks home. If anything comes of this storyline, I will be wholly surprised. Nothing truly bad ever happens to these two – even the Ethel issue isn’t so bad. She ran away with Malik, not a 60 year-old polygamist.
“Baby book says caffeine’s not good for the fetus.” –Jody
“Well it’s good for me.” –Karen
And this week on “Karen is a Terrible Person,” we see the unfeeling harpy having sex with her husband and it’s not pretty. He needs to play “Kiss from a Rose” and when he finishes, he cries like a baby. Karen thinks this “gay,” we just think it’s a bit ridiculous. Though it does make it pretty clear that if Karen can’t handle being close to her husband now that the fun part is over, she definitely shouldn’t have a baby.
Jody invited his friends over, and they bring their gaggle of kids and they talk to Karen about natural child birth and terrify her with horror stories about stretched nether regions and giant babies.
Karen wants Jody gone, but if she divorces him, he can take half of her dad’s pension which she could use to, like, to open a tanning salon or buy a convertible, or something. Lip tells her to have Jody sign pre-nup and his crooked notary friend will predate it. Jody signs it even though Karen tries to trick him first, and he keeps saying “I love you no matter what.” He may be worse than the harpy. When they’re having sex again, she starts to see him in terrifying slo-mo and immediately kicks him out of the house. He starts delusionally living in a tent outside her house – he thinks it’s pregnancy hormones which only proves he really doesn’t know Karen very well. The only real product of his little camping trip is that Lip can’t enjoy Karen’s thank-you fellatio because of Jody and his incessant bongo-ing. I’m a little tired of Jody myself, but he was just promoted to series regular, so it seems he’s not going anywhere soon.
Lip thinks that with all this going on, he and Karen are getting back together. Ian says he’s pathetic – he can have anything he wants and he wants to stay on the Southside and raise Karen’s baby. Lip says Ian’s too scared to admit he’s gay. They continue bickering, and Peggy comes in and says the only way to solve it is with fighting. They set a time and place and then, frankly, beat the crap out of each other. Unfortunately, Peggy is right and once they fight, Ian voices his issues with always being the little brother and they leave to share a beer. But, Lip can’t do everything right and he drops out of school to help Karen with the baby – he is so determined to not be Frank that he will waste every ounce of potential he has. Luckily, Fiona is determined to set him on the right track and tells the school he’s sick – but he’s an adult, is there really anything Fiona can do to stop him?
“Why does my name have to make a difference?” –Steve
Jasmine invites Fiona out on her sugar daddy’s boat and Steve wants to see her, so Jasmine says she should bring him to the boat. Of course Fiona doesn’t do that, and she kicks him out when he stops by the house, but Jasmine invites him to the boat party anyway.
At the party, Fiona avoids Steve and his man-thong bathing suit (because he apparently forgot what Americans wear at the beach) like the plague, but it’s only a matter of time before he chases her and tries to talk to her. He says he’ll leave his wife for her in an instant, and she says that notion is why she can’t be with him. His drunk wife comes up the stairs and Fiona tells him to take the wobbly girl home. And in a moment that should have been all Fiona’s, she’s bawling over Steve’s betrayal and Jasmine comes up and catches her. She tells her that she deserves someone who treats her like a queen and then kisses her. This scene should have been about Fiona’s struggle with her emotions, yet we’re thrown for a loop with Jasmine’s tonsil hockey move and suddenly, we don’t feel anything – we’re just confused.
Later, Jasmine admits that husband kicked her out and that David found out she was breaking into his boat. She asks to stay with Fiona and Fiona says no, but Jasmine says she’s done everything for her – gave her a job, clothes, jewelry, got Estafania drunk so Fiona could sleep with Steve. Of course, none of these are things Fiona wanted or needed – except for maybe that initial job. Jasmine’s storyline could be so good – even the part where she fell in love with Fiona – but she’s such a mess that we can’t even feel anything except for pity for a girl who’s that off track in her life. It does, however, bring into perspective the fact that Fiona went off the rails, but at least she didn’t screw things up that royally.
The episode ends with another three-second Steve encounter in from of the house. He stops by to ask Fiona why she didn’t meet him at the airport. She doesn’t give him an answer so he says “I love you.” All she can muster is “don’t.” Now, I understand that drawing out a romantic conclusion – or at the very least a romantic event – is paramount to stringing the audience along, but this is bordering on boring. How much longer can the two of them end episodes with minimal, short-lived conversation on Fiona’s doorstep? Something needs to move forward or backward, or we’re in danger of losing interest all together.
Do you think the Steve storyline is moving at an awkward pace? Did you think this episode was overly complicated? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler
S10E11: While last night definitely proved that the judges have found quite a few talented people (though some are just very capable karaoke singers), it also proved that the people at Idol sure know how to stretch what should be an hour of television into two dreadfully long hours of waiting. They also proved that they can, in fact, fit in about a million references to The Beatles' Love show in Vegas into an hour. Have they been taking cross promotion lessons from Britney Spears or something?
Last night was actually two episodes. The first was a second group round supposedly invented because there were just too many good contestants this year, but really invented because Idol wanted that extra Beatles cash. Duos and trios sang (in a many cases butchered) Beatles classics on the stage at the Mirage in Vegas, where they were cut from a group of 61 to 40. Then they all traveled back to L.A. to go to the hangar of doom (seriously, it looked like the end of Raiders of Lost Ark if you replaced top secret government stuff with broken dreams and diva tears) for their final elimination and what we thought would finally be the top 24. Oh no, it’s not that easy. Cut to the end of those two hours when the screen went black and the dreaded “To Be Continued” screen came up. Really, Idol? I could have done this in 10 minutes – and I wouldn’t have allowed Clint Jun Gamboa to get through, that’s for damn sure.
“I’ve never even heard a Beatles song.” –Ashton Jones
Let me pause for a minute here. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Ashton wasn’t the only Idol hopeful who admitted on national television to never ever hearing a Beatles song. First of all, unless you’ve never seen TV or a movie or the radio or been to a Walmart on a Saturday, you’ve heard a freaking Beatles song. Trust me. Secondly, how can you call yourself an artist/musician/whatever and not know the Beatles? That’s worse than when Miley Cyrus said she didn’t know who Jay-Z was – and I thought THAT was bad.
“This is freaking me out because Beatleland is where I live.” –Steven
I love how insane Steven is. Never change, Steven; I’m begging you. Anyway, since we’ve got so much to cover, let’s get right into the groups. First up was the duo of Stefano Langone and James Durbin. They sang “Get Back” and while they’re both technically good, I stand by what I’ve been saying all season, which is just because you can hit those high notes correctly, doesn’t mean I want to hear them.
High school buddies Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez did “Can’t Buy Me Love” like a couple of wedding singers, but the judges seemed impressed. Jennifer even told them they were some of the folks who really “get it.” I have to disagree. The only thing they get is how their high school show choir taught them to act onstage, and you know what? There’s no way I’d throw down 50 bucks to see either of them.
Then the groups really started to prove why forced groupings isn’t always so hot. You’ve got all these unique voices and sometimes when you smush three together, the result isn’t that pleasant. Jacob Lusk, Naima Adedapa, and Haley Reinhart all have beautiful powerful voices on their own, but their version of “The Long and Winding Road” was just too discordant for my tastes. This truly isn’t because of any faults on their parts; their voices just don’t mesh.
“One hand clapping!” –Steven
Moving right along, we caught glimpses of Rachel Zevita singing “Elenor Rigby” like the total drama kid she is (yeah, we know you’ve been saving that little hat for this for years), Lauren Turner who gave a solid turn at “Let it Be,” and finally Julie Zorilla and Tim Halperin with “Something.” I like Zorilla well enough, but why has Halperin not had more attention? He is such a lovely, lovely singer. (Plus, he’s cute as a button.)
After a few conspicuous shots of the American Idol red phone booth (really?) we moved on to Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis and Tatynisa Wilson with “I Saw Her Standing There.” The judges were split here, saying that the performances were so-so while Steven cried foul. He thought they were fantastic – clearly he needs to get his ears checked. Lakeisha does have some serious pipes, but it’s clear she hasn’t learned how to use them yet and the other two were just alright.
I can’t stop quoting Steven, but someone needs to put down a record of all this. (Plus it’s fun.) The groups dragged along, with Kendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald giving us their pretty little version of “Blackbird.” Kendra’s voice is pretty, but a dime a dozen, while Paul once again showed us why he’s still here. He’s got this sweet, wonderful, honey-soaked rasp that I hope sticks around once the voting starts. He really is a breath of fresh air in the competition.
“Guess what, you’re going to die on stage in front of all those people. I’m going to be lying in my bed watchin’ you croak.” –Peggi the vocal coach “From Hell”
Melinda Ademi and Thia Megia were getting railed on by their vocal coach (that’s right, they had that much help and people still messed up this round) for their version of “Here Comes the Sun” and once they hit the stage it was obvious why. Thia’s got it down, but Melinda (as sweet as she is) was the weak link, fumbling her phrasing and lacking the strength that Thia has.
Also fumbling were Ashley Sullivan and her partner Sophia Shorai. They’re a clear example of those who have technical talent – meaning they can hit the notes correctly – but none of that extra something that makes someone pleasant to watch. Needless to say, they both went home.
“It’s like the Marx Brothers put out a fire thing.” –Steven
When Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, and Denise Jackson hit the stage, they’d already been hit hard by the criticisms from big time producer Jimmy Iovine, but it didn’t seem to help. Though they’re all good singers, they just did not work together. On that same note, buddies Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley also hit a sour note (literally, OUCH) in their duo performance. Chris Medina and Casey Abrams were actually a great pairing, but it was obvious that (as much as I like Chris) Casey was shouldering the weight in the song.
Finally, Robbie Rosen (love him!), Aaron Sanders, and Jordan Dorsey finished it off with “Got to Get You Into My Life.” Overall, they actually worked well together; it was a little boy bandy, but it worked. Robbie was fantastic as always, but Jordan really seems unable to put the money where his mouth his. He talks big, but he’s not that great. Aaron was fine, but he doesn’t really seem to stand out – then again, that could just be clever editing.
“You win some you lose some, and I just lost a big one.” –Caleb Hawley
Alright, here they are, the first cuts. From what Idol actually told us, we lost Caleb Hawley, Denise Jackson, Ashley Sullivan, Carson Higgins, and Molly DeWolf. It’s tough to see people go, but I can accept that these folks just weren’t the best of the best. Now for the real cuts – well, half of them anyway. Seriously, two hours is a whole lotta Idol.
“I used to watch In Living Color and want to be a fly girl too.” –Naima Adedapo
(Me too, honey.) Now that all that Vegas nonsense is over, we get down to business, forcing the contestants to take the impossibly long, terrifying walk towards a stark stage with four white chairs and a video loop of their last performance in the background. What kind of freaky science fiction movie is this? Naima Adedapo and her impossibly sparkly blue dress were the first additions to the top 24 while the sweet, talented Hollie Cavanaugh was sent home. Jennifer made a point to tell Holly that she was outvoted, but that if Hollie came back in a few years, she’d be strong enough to win, not just make it into the top 24. Wow, I never thought I’d agree with Jennifer Lopez on anything.
Also on the chopping block were Lakeisha Lewis and Alex Ryan, though we could have guessed that after seeing how little screen time they’ve each had. Clint Jun Gamboa was all choked up about Lakeisha’s elimination, but I’m still not buying his emotions. (Yep, I’m holding onto that Jacee grudge.) He actually made it through to the top 24, to which I offer this: WHY? He’s a karaoke host and that’s exactly what he sounds like. His voice is just unpleasant, his personality is unpleasant, and I really don’t want to have to see his face on my TV anymore. America, you know what to do. It’s up to you now. SEND HIM HOME.
“We’ve been watching you and I’m really afraid to say…it’s a yes.” –Steven
Knock that shit off, Steven. The contestants don’t like it and neither do we. Anyway, next to get the go-ahead was Haley Reinhart of the crazy eyes. I’m not sure how I feel about her; her voice kind of seems like it’s too big for her body, which is a bit bothersome, but we’ll see how it turns out.
Crowd favorite Deandre Brackensick was sent packing for his lack of consistency (but he’s young, so he’s got time to improve) while Paul McDonald was ushered into the 24 because Idol’s apparently trying to find “artists” this year. I hope they mean that because Paul is really fantastic and I want to hear as much of his singing on this show as I can. (Even is he resurrects that awful white jacket.) Ashton Jones, who rocked “I’m Telling You” last time, also earned a slot in the top 24. Once again, she’s someone I’m not totally sure of, but I’m willing to see what she brings next week.
“It was honestly a pleasure to meet you, someone like you.” –JLo
Now for the really hard part. Because this is a singing competition, no matter how wonderful and saintly the infinitely likable Chris Medina is, he frankly doesn’t have the chops for the competition. I’ve been afraid to say it all season because I love his story and I want him to stick around for that reason. Sadly, they made Jennifer deliver the news. Thanks producers, you know she was going to have the hardest time with that. Of course she’s concerned she didn’t say it right, but the problem is, there’s no right way to tell someone like Chris that they have to go home.
Boy, tonight’s going to be fun won’t it? No, no it won’t. Get ready for another hour of torture in the science fiction/ Indiana Jones hangar. Damnit, Idol.