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]
Opera legend Luciano Pavarotti has died, his manager has announced. He was 71.
The Italian tenor was said to be in a "very serious" condition on Wednesday night, after falling unconscious. A local TV news station in Modena, Italy, reported Pavarotti was on his deathbed after suffering kidney failure.
Friends and family held a bedside vigil at the singer's home in Modena on Wednesday, but the star died in the early hours of Thursday morning.
His death follows a recent spell of ill health: Pavarotti was admitted to the hospital last month to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer, and underwent surgery for cancer last year--and has since had at least five rounds of chemotherapy.
He is survived by his survived by four daughters, three with first wife Adua and one with second wife Nicoletta Mantovani--who gave birth to Alice in January 2003--and one granddaughter.
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Top Story: Duff and Disney Part Ways
'Tween girls everywhere are going to be bummed. Hilary Duff, star of the Disney Channel's hit show Lizzie McGuire and the recent movie of the same name, has decided to take her leave from the company that helped launch her career. A spokeswoman for the Walt Disney Co. told Reuters the studio and the 15-year-old actress were "going their separate ways," after contract negotiations between Disney and Duff's representatives broke down. Reports say Duff was asking for $5 million for a Lizzie McGuire sequel and $100,000 per episode of the show. "We gave them a very generous offer and unfortunately they passed. Hilary is a great girl and we truly wish her the best of luck," the spokeswoman said. A Disney Channel spokesman told Reuters there were no plans to produce new episodes of the Lizzie McGuire show, but said the cable network plans to continue broadcasting the program.
Minnelli Show Must Go On
Liza Minnelli broke her right kneecap in a fall in Italy Sunday but continued her plans to sing in a charity concert for Iraqi refugees, doing a duet with opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti Monday. "She will leave hospital [Monday] evening to sing 'New York, New York' in a duet with Pavarotti. After the concert, she will return to hospital to undergo a knee operation," Pavarotti's spokeswoman told Reuters. The "Pavarotti and Friends Annual Charity Show" in Modena, northern Italy, aims to raise money to help Iraqi refugees return home after the war.
Simpsons' Groening Named Best Cartoonist
Matt Groening, the mad genius behind The Simpsons, was awarded the Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year at the 2003 Reuben Awards, The Associated Press reports. The 57th annual award ceremony was held Saturday at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, with presenters and past Reuben winners such as "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams, "Doonesbury" creator Gary Trudeau, and Cathy Guisewite, creator of "Cathy," AP reports.
Gay Reality Show Gets a Shot
Cable network Bravo, owned by NBC, will air the first primetime gay-themed reality dating series called Boy Meets Boy. As usual, an eligible bachelor will choose among 15 potential mates--the twist is some of the men are actually heterosexual who have been paid to pretend to be gay. "I think this will be truly groundbreaking television," series executive producer and co-creator Douglas Ross told The Hollywood Reporter. "Several of the straight men have very intense experiences," he said, declining to divulge specific behavior. "We anticipate a lot of both gay and straight viewers will have their assumptions challenged about what it means to be gay and what it means to be straight."
Mighty Wind Singers Give Free Concert
They enjoyed it so much on-screen they decided to do it for real. The cast of the mockumentary A Mighty Wind, which follows three sets of folk singing icons as they come together for a memorial concert, gave their own free concert at the Getty Center museum in Los Angeles Friday, AP reports. Performing were Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean as the Folksmen; Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara as Mitch & Mickey; and John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch and Parker Posey as young members of the nine-person New Main Street Singers.
Once-Blacklisted Actress Gets Star
Betty Garrett, best known for her role as Edna Babish on the TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley, got her own Hollywood Walk of Fame star Friday. Garrett, 84, and her late husband, Larry Parks, were both briefly blacklisted in the early 1950s during the McCarthy era.
Role Call: Curtis Hanson Turns Crimson, Old School's Boys Go Back to Class, Miramax Lands Barbarian
Director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile) is in final negotiations to direct The Crimson Petal and the White. Based on Michael Farber's Victorian novel, the story focuses on a 19-year-old prostitute living in 1860s London who becomes the secret mistress to a member of a powerful London family…meanwhile, the trio of funny guys--Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn--who made Old School a hit will likely return to make the sequel, currently in development, Variety reports…and also in Variety news, Miramax picked up the distribution rights to director Denys Arcand's French-Canadian film The Barbarian Invasions, which recently won awards at the Cannes Film Festival for best screenplay and best actress (Marie-Josee Croze). The story follows an estranged son who reunites with his divorced parents when his father faces a life-threatening illness.
Tom Green just can't stop being annoying. While on a cross-country tour of skate parks, the Associated Press reported the comedian made a pit stop at a Des Moines, Iowa dance club--and promptly irritated the crowd to the point of getting himself booed off the stage.
Things started off pleasantly enough, with Green inciting the patrons to chant, "I like to drink beer" and "In Iowa, we like to drink beer, " but then took it one step too far, interrupting the music and yelling into the microphone. Guess it's just in his nature.
Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to help shape the youth of America. The AP reports that at an annual meeting of the California Society of Newspaper Editors and Associated Press News Executives Council Friday, the imposing actor promoted a 2002 state ballot initiative that would give more than $400 million towards extracurricular activities and tutoring for kids in kindergarten through ninth grade.
Rapper Master P's stalker will finally stand trial. Antwan Kevin Baker has been accused of stalking and making criminal threats against Percy Miller, known as Master P, for the last three years and was arrested April 17. Little risky stalking a rapper, don't you think? Those guys can be pretty tough.
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is not dating "it's-not-my-baby" Steve Bing and she and Leonardo DiCaprio are not on the skids, as previously rumored. According to PageSix.com, Bundchen, at a Victoria's Secret shoot last week, kept pushing her breasts together saying, "Thees ees for Leo…Thees ees for my boyfriend," while posing in lingerie. No doubt Leo's happy to hear it.
The season finale of NBC's Friends, where Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) gave birth to daughter Emma and accepted an unintentional marriage proposal from Joey (Matt LeBlanc), drew the show's second biggest audience ever, at about 34.9 million viewers.
Actor, writer, director and now musician Billy Bob Thornton is rocking with the best of them, including Elvis Costello. On Friday Thornton began his two-week, nine-city tour in Los Angeles, showing off his rockabilly musical roots, and announced he will join Costello on dates in Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio.
Opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti postponed a performance in Britain to rehearse for a Three Tenor concert (joining Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras) at the World Cup tournament in Japan.
Songwriter Sharon Sheeley, best known for her song "Poor Little Fool" that was immortalized by pop icon Ricky Nelson in 1958, died Saturday in Los Angeles of complications following an aneurysm. She was 62.
Mariah Carey has booked a guest appearance on Fox's Ally McBeal on Jan. 7. In the episode, Carey will play a key figure in a lawsuit brought by (Jami Gertz's) Kimmy Bishop after she is given a refund by a matchmaking service and deemed unmatchable. Carey also will be featured warbling "Lead the Way" from her new album, "Glitter."
The movie memorabilia-themed restaurant Planet Hollywood filed for bankruptcy on Friday due to a drop in tourist business after Sept. 11. Planet's chief executive Robert Earl tells Reuters the Orlando-Florida based restaurant chain owes $133 million in debt against $121 in assets. Planet Hollywood, once valued at $3.5 billion on the day of its 1996 opening day, is struggling to find customers to fill its restaurants.
An Italian court has cleared Tenor Luciano Pavarotti of tax evasion charges, throwing out a state claim for up to $18 million, BBC News reports. Prosecutors argued that Pavarotti claimed to be a resident of the Italian town Modena, not Monaco, as claimed in his tax return between 1989 and 1995. In his defense, his lawyers said the tenor only visited Italy a few days each year to see friends and for the holidays. Otherwise, he lived "179 days a year" in the United States.
How's "Survivor" surviving? Not so well, apparently. The CBS reality show Survivor: Africa came in second to NBC's Friends last Thursday for the second week in a row. According to Nielsen ratings, Survivor has dipped its lowest levels since its June 2000 debut, having declined by 18 percent in total viewers (19.59 million vs. 23.84 million) and by 24 percent in adults (7.9 rating, 20 share vs. 10.4/23) from its premiere a week ago. . Friends was down 18 percent week-to-week in adults 18-24 to a season-low 12.2/32, but that's still 4 percent ahead of its fourth episode last season.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, will stop making TV programs about royalty following controversy over his production company's filming of Prince William, BBC News reports. Adrent Productions has been criticized for not adhering to an agreement for all media not to intrude into William's life at St. Andrews University in Edinburgh, where he has just begin his first term.
Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins will star in The Human Stain, based on a Philip Roth novel set against the backdrop of the 1998 Clinton impeachment scandal, Reuters reports. Robert Benton is set to direct the film, which is expected to begin shooting in March.
The Runner, an ambitious reality show developed by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, has been put on hold until next season due to concerns over the national mood, Reuters reports. The series, previously set to premiere on Jan. 7, is a cat-and-mouse game in which pre-selected "agents" pursue "runners" cross-country According to ABC, security issues and concern about the show's arose after the Sept. 11 attacks. No word yet on what ABC will do with the 9 p.m. Monday slot come January.
Producers Harry Thomason, his wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and filmmaker Adam Friedman are set to begin filming a theatrical documentary based on the Joe Conason and Gene Lyons book The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hunting will document the efforts to discredit the couple from the time of Bill Clinton's governorship in Arkansas through his 1998 presidential impeachment trial. Production is scheduled to start during the next few weeks.
With the balloting for the Screen Actors Guild presidential and more than 40 offices up for election ending in Oct. 31, candidates can now send email messages to the 30,000 or so union members who have email adresses, Reuters reported. For 8 cents per message, the emails supposedly contain harsh criticism on the presidential race between Melissa Gilbert and Valerie Harper, who are seeking to replace the current SAG president William Daniels, who will not be running for a second two-year term.
Bad-ass Kid Rock is looking for a few fans to appear in his new video "Forever," the first off his Nov. 20 release Cocky. According to an Atlantic Records spokesperson, the Wayne Isham-directed video will be shot on Oct. 26 and 27 in Detroit, Mich. Details will be announced soon through local radio stations and Kid Rock's official Web site.