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]
Based on a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde "Pay It Forward" is about a boy named Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) who is inspired by his social studies teacher Mr. Simonet (Kevin Spacey) and comes up with a school project based on a simple concept: Don't wait to pay back good deeds; pay them forward three times over. One of the boy's attempts to do good includes bringing his teacher together with his alcoholic single mother Arlene (Helen Hunt).
This movie has all the makings of Oscar. Two-time Oscar winner Spacey is solid as usual and escapes into the role of Mr. Simonet whose facial and bodily burn scars hide a tragic secret. Oscar winner Hunt gets a chance to really flex her acting muscles and she does. Her scenes with young Osment are especially gripping. But the revelation in "Pay It Forward" is Osment. This boy was born to act and he improves upon his already impressive turn in "The Sixth Sense." It would be nice to see Osment win Oscar this year and Spacey and Hunt will surely receive nominations. Providing strong supporting work are Angie Dickinson Jay Mohr and James Caviezel and Jon Bon Jovi appears in a fortunately brief cameo.
Mimi Leder ("Deep Impact " "The Peacemaker") takes a break from action films and slows it down way down with "Pay It Forward." Her foray into the non-action realm is shaky. Some of the scenes are out of place and take away from the overall effectiveness of the film. One major and surprising plot point is heartbreaking unnecessary and executed in a contrived manner. And the ending is disjointed from the feel of the rest of the film. Fortunately for Leder she has an amazing cast and a strong story from author Hyde.
The son of Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell died Saturday of complications from acute lymphocytic leukemia, The Associated Press reports. The child, born Jan. 26, became ill Thursday and was taken to the Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas. The band has canceled a show in Great Fall, Mont., and an appearance in Kellogg, Idaho. They do not know when they will resume their schedule. A memorial service was scheduled for Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Paramedic Christopher Dickinson has filed a lawsuit against Limp Bizkit, claiming that he suffered brain damage and personality changes from working at an Oct. 29 concert near Detroit, Launch.com reports. Dickinson claims he was working the concert when he was trampled by concertgoers while trying to get to a fan suffering from a seizure. Dickinson and his lawyers claim that lead singer Fred Durst incited the crowd to rush the stage violently.
Troubled rapper DMX pleaded guilty to reckless assault on July 24 and paid a $1,000 fine in Alden, N.Y. According to SonicNet.com, the assault charge stemmed from an incident in which DMX threw a food tray across a room, allegedly hitting an officer. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of contempt of court the rapper was charged with after he turned himself in more than two weeks late to serve a 13-day jail term for a traffic violation he pleaded guilty to in March 2000. DMX said he was contractually obligated to be in Los Angeles to promote his movie Exit Wounds.
Drummer Tommy Lee has completed 154 hours of his 450-hour community service obligation stemming from a 1998 arrest for beating then-wife Pamela Anderson and has completed domestic-violence counseling, USA Today reports.
The U.S. Copyright Office has launched an arbitration trial over how much royalties Webcasters should have to pay record labels and musicians. The Recording Industry of Association of America proposed Webcasters pay 15 cents per hour, or .014 cents per song, for music streamed on the Internet. But Webcasters said the royalty rate being proposed by the RIAA is too high and would cripple Internet ventures.
Actress Kate Winslet has bought a house at Tintagel on England's southwest coast, close to the ruins of Tintagel Castle, said in legend to have been King Arthur's Camelot. The Daily Telegraph reports that John Mappin, joint owner of the nearby Camelot Castle Hotel, warned that the actress would be sharing the property with a ghost. The house was once the home of a worker at the hotel who died about 70 years ago. Some people believe the ghost is that of the hotel worker.
New Line Cinema has signed Lance Khazei to write a sequel to 1994's The Mask which starred Jim Carrey. The story line is remaining a closely guarded secret and no director or stars have yet to be attached to the project. According to Variety, New Line has not yet set a budget to The Mask 2 but says that the company's focus on features in the $10 million to $50 million budget range make Carrey an unlikely prospect.
The widow of Red Skeleton, who died in 1997 at age 84, said that she will donate some of the comedian's memorabilia to the Red Skeleton Performing Arts Center, AP reports. The 1,000 seat performing arts center also will feature a museum and gallery for Skeleton's paintings of clown faces.
Jive Records has inked a deal with Nickelodeon to develop acts and distribute records for a new label formed by the network, Variety reports. Jive is home to many teen pop stars, including Britney Spears and 'N Sync. Nick Records will team up with Jive to market, promote and distribute joint-venture releases worldwide. Nickelodeon will back the music with TV advertising and other marketing ploys.
James Bond's dune buggy is among the rare film items to be sold at an auction on Tuesday, the BBC reports. The auction will take place simultaneously in the London and San Francisco branches of Planet Hollywood. Other highlights will include Dr Evil's costume from the Austin Powers film and props from Gladiator, Sleepy Hollow and Mission: Impossible.