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]
The good, bad and the ugly on the tube:
Connie vs. Condit
We were worried about fluff. We cringed at the thought of Connie Chung pussy-footing around Gary Condit. We tuned in Thursday to watch the circus begin.
We were relieved.
Chung held her own against the California congressman, asking point-blank questions that tore away at Condit and his frightening hair. It's a shame that Condit didn't answer a damn thing--reminding us several times that he's "not perfect" and that he "makes mistakes." What mistakes? Well, he couldn't tell us that. He couldn't be truthful out of respect for the Levy family--the parents of the girl he'd been "close" with.
Chung looked ready to wring Condit's neck right there on national TV, but she kept her cool and politely left ... empty-handed. But not to worry: PrimeTime Thursday should garner enough ratings to make ABC execs quite happy. Isn't that the point?
Livin' L.A. vida loca
So the Latin Grammys are moving to La La Land. Sure, Miami's the big loser in the deal, but L.A. isn't the true winner. Who is?
This controversy will intrigue viewing audiences---people who may not have been planning to watch the show. The move also allows for diva Jennifer Lopez to attend the festivities (she hadn't planned on flying to Miami for the event, but reportedly plans on attending the L.A. soiree). A little controversy mixed in with some extra T&A: CBS execs couldn't have planned it better.
Bill O'Reilly: Manson fan?
Marilyn Manson on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. You can just see the carnage. Bill O'Reilly ripping Manson's very tattoos off. Ugly.
But that wasn't the case on Monday night.
Instead, Manson---defending his recent lewd conduct on stage---argued eloquently with TV's toughest interviewer. When grilled about his sexually charged performances, Manson calmly reminded O'Reilly that a guy named Elvis once sat through such accusations, and O'Reilly was soon won over. Toward the end of the interview, O'Reilly humbly called Manson "a well-spoken guy." Perhaps Manson should run for public office? He's already cleared one of the media's toughest hurdles---an accomplishment most politicians never even attempt.
HBO hits hard
HBO Sports' newest series, Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Baltimore Ravens, has proven to be an utterly fascinating--and unflinching--look at pre-season NFL conditioning. The most recent episode, which dealt heavily with the overbearing heat and exhaustion on the field, may have seemed a bit insensitive to some (considering the rash of heat-related deaths on the gridiron this summer), but ultimately, it made you understand why these men push themselves so hard.
The camera catches everything: men desperate for honor, validation, respect and ---and yes---money. Head coach Brian Billick sometimes comes off as a tyrant, but that's why he makes the big bucks. However, a camera in Billick's room reveals he's not as fierce as he appears, catching little glimpses of anxiety, compassion and concern.
CBS: going ga-ga
It was announced on Wednesday that CBS' newest spokesperson will be---are you sitting down?---a seven-month-old baby who can talk like an adult. The "spokesbaby," named Baby Bob, will promote the network's programming this fall throughout the day and night, before he receives his own mid-season sitcom, aptly named Baby Bob, starring Joely Fisher and Jonathan Silverman.
This would be an innovative concept if Fox's Family Guy and Pepsi's The Joy of Pepsi ad campaign hadn't already numbed us to the idea. Pretty unoriginal these days. But the kid is damn cute.