One distinct sensation comes over you while watching Baz Luhrmann's colorful film adaptation of The Great Gatsby: that of experiencing the wonder of one's first meeting with Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack Dawson in Titanic. Somehow, with 16 years between the James Cameron film and DiCaprio's turn as F. Scott Fitzgerald's tragic hero, DiCaprio still evokes the sensation of pre-teen lust: the smell of watermelon Bubblicious, the intoxicating mix of movie theater popcorn and Bath and Body Works' Country Apple body spray, and of course, the scent of a fresh issue of Tiger Beat. Against all odds, DiCaprio has remained the ultimate heartthrob long after his years of having his face plasters on teenagers' walls has ended.
Gatsby Is Basically a Grown Up JackThe beguiling and intoxicating Jay Gatsby ultimately becomes the victim of his own ambition. He reaches for his green light, his unattainable perfect life represented by Daisy and his surreptitiously-acquired wealth, and it eventually drives him to his death in his own pristine swimming pool.
Jack Dawson is almost the reckless, teen version of that ill-fated man. He's a poor kid striving for something more, much like Gatsby before his wealth, and he reaches above his station to attempt to be with Rose (Kate Winslet). It's that dedication and romantic desperation that leads him to his tragic, similarly-watery death.
Add to that the way both dapper charmers lift their coupe glasses of champagne just to the side of the viewer's direct (and ardent) stare, and you've got a direct link – both thematically and in a unavoidable Pavlovian sense – to the young rapscallion who stole our hearts back in 1997.
There's a Leo For Every Stage of One's Romantic and Psychological DevelopmentWhen we first met Leo as the impossibly cute Luke Brower on Growing Pains, we didn't know we were entering the calculated crush-prolonging vehicle that is DiCaprio's illustrious career. After winning our young (make that super young) hearts, DiCaprio captured our more rebellious, angsty proclivities for longing with tragic roles in Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet and Titanic.
When we needed to grow up just a bit and enjoy movies that made our parents slightly more uncomfortable, we witnessed a serious, and far more sexually stimulating DiCaprio in Danny Boyle's sexy thriller The Beach. (Leo tan and half-naked on a mysterious beach in Thailand? Yes, please.) Like clockwork, DiCaprio moved on to Catch Me if You Can and Gangs of New York, providing a glimpse at his rapidly improving acting abilities and pleasing both sides of our developing DiCaprio pallette: the side that longs for boyish charms and the side that longs for a roguish man.
When we were firmly settled with DiCaprio's new status as a grown man, the onslaught continued and we were helpless but to comply. In The Departed and Blood Diamond, DiCaprio threw himself into the underbelly of some of the world's darkest realms. The tears we cried over his characters' deaths only brought us closer. By the time we got to Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, and Inception, he was practically our middle school sweetheart all grown up and still true to our ever-beating hearts. To love him was all we knew and everything we wanted.
In Real Life, Leo Is Heartwarmingly Dedicated to Making the Earth a Better PlaceWhen DiCaprio was young, he was well-spoken and a little too cocky for his own good. I remember distinctly watching him tell someone on ET that if one girl said his name, "it spreads like wildfire to all the other girls." I never forgot, because I thought it was unforgiveably arrogant, yet my adolescent longing for the actor grew without my permission. He was teenage cryptonite.
Now, we're older. We're wiser. We want someone with more to offer than knowledge of his own popularity. Enter Leo of 2013. He wrote, produced, and narrated a documentary on global warming called The 11th Hour. He completely fit his home with solar panels and insists on driving a hybrid car. He even flies commercial instead of using private planes because he's that dedicated to helping the environment. Just this week, he raised over $38 million towards global conservation.
We're not even mad that he almost exclusively dates models. This man can do no wrong. He's devilishly handsome. He cares about the Earth. He's so in tune with his roles that when he speaks about his characters, you'd think he'd been possessed by the spirit of Sir Lawrence Olivier.
Even if we hadn't grown up with DiCaprio's career in such a perfect sync, contemporary Leo would be enough. But factor in the machine-like efficiency with which his career has fully ensared us year after year, like a mystical plan devised by a still-unknown intergallatic enemy, and we're absolutely helpless. To even attempt to resist the girlish fervor with which we still worship DiCaprio is futile. We're instricably linked, and there's not a single one of us that's complaining.
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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]