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]
Last night was the 200th episode of Dancing with the Stars, but it really feels like this show was on television long before the dinosaurs had their town meeting and tried to decide if a mere rumor of their destruction was enough to make them want to build a bomb shelter (obviously it was not). Lots of previous dancers attended the taping to show their support for this season’s dancers, and you could tell they all wanted to go up to all the current dancers and be like “see? I told you this was hard! It’s like trying to memorize square roots while sitting in a container of overfed circus elephants!” Anyway.
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas danced Kelly Osbourne’s Viennese Waltz from last season. They spent the majority of their rehearsal time practicing how to smile like Kelly, which was weird because I wouldn’t peg either family as one for smiling. I was bored during their dance. I found the scene in Sleepless in Seattle, where Meg Ryan was crying and listening to her car radio, to be more inspiring. Carrie Ann Moss called her a “lost pigeon” (as opposed to one who uses Google maps?) and they scored 33 points out of 40.
Rick Fox broke into the Hardrock Café and stole Jim Carrey’s suit from The Mask and wore it while he danced Helio Castroneves’ quickstep. Last week, the judges asked him to losen up a bit and not like someone who’s trying to steal the only signed copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” so much. His girlfriend, Eliza Dushku, stopped by his rehearsal under the idea she would make sure Rick stayed true to his fun self during the dance. But if morphing his face into this is his “normal self,” then I suppose he did a good job. The judges gave him 37 points out of 40.
Kurt Warner was asked to dance Emmitt Smith’s tango. But because Anna frustrates him by saying a step he finds to be quite difficult is actually pretty low in difficulty, Kurt wanted to take her to a football field and show her how something one person finds easy can be difficult for someone else. Blah blah blah, innocent Christian lesson. They danced, and it wasn’t any better than any of his other performances. But might I say that Anna’s implementation of bondage in her costumes is certainly improving! The judges gave them 34 points.
Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer danced Mel B’s tremendous paso doble hit. The two practiced being as sexy as ever, which included Kyle’s decision to practice without a shirt. Their dance was actually pretty impressive, and it seemed like Kyle hit all his marks. They both, however, looked like that bird that puffed up into a blue flotation device from Planet Earth, who did his little dance for a prospective lady friend in hopes it would make her have sex with him. They got 35 points for their routine.
Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy danced Gilles Marini’s foxtrot, which Maks was secretly worried Brandy would not be able to pull off because she hasn’t had sex in 6 years. Well, either that or he just expected her to writhe in irrational and makeshift ecstasy around the floor. During rehearsal, she had to touch Maks’ ass, and she was supremely uncomfortable. She did not get it down in time. Her foxtrot looked like it was performed by the FAO Schwartz nutcracker soldiers, but they still got 37 points for it.
And finally, Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough danced Drew Lachey’s tango. During rehearsals, Jennifer complained about how much her body hurt her and she expressed the doubts she had about whether or not she’d be able to finish the competition. The dance itself was not nearly as entertaining as her previous dances, but she did catapult herself to the top of the leader board and tied herself with Brandy after the judges gave her 37 points.