Written by Michael J. Wilson, Michael Berg, Peter Ackermann, James Bresnahan, Doug Compton, Jeff Siergey, Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu, and Xeth Feinberg
Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha
One of my son’s favorite films that he will watch over and over again is Ice Age. He’s even gotten to the point where he knows some of the script by heart and repeats is with the characters.
Sid is a sloth who’s ditched by his herd on their migration south. Through a series of mishaps, he meets up with a mammoth by the name of Manfred. Manfred is a bit of a loner and renegade who’s not intending to head south. The two sort of inadvertently hook up and head off on their own, although Manfred seems to be continually annoyed by Sid’s presence.
Meanwhile, nearby, a pack of sabertooth tigers stalks a human colony. The leader of the pack, Soto, blames the humans for wiping out the rest of their pack. He plots his revenge by getting the baby of the human he feels is most responsible. When the child’s mother jumps from a cliff into the water below, Soto sends Diego, one of the other sabertooths to find it and bring it to him.
However, by this time Manfred and Sid have happened upon the mother and child in the water below. They can do nothing for her, but they take on the responsibility of getting the child back to his “herd”. They meet up with Diego who tries to con them out of the baby, but Sid and Manfred don’t fall for it and the odd threesome set out in search of the humans.
Along the way they encounter dodo birds, female sloths, rhinos, They must deal with the rigors of parenting a human child, including changing diapers, feeding, crying, All the while the other sabertooths stalk them, and the question is what will Diego do when push comes to shove? He’s found a couple of friends in Sid and Manfred, will he sacrifice them to be “cool” to his old friends?
The story is told with quite a bit of humor, mainly at the expense of the “Odd Couple” relationship that exists between Sid and the other two. The humor works for parents as well as for kids. Some of the jokes might go over kids’ heads, but that’s all right. My kids didn’t question when something came up that they didn’t understand, so they either “got” most of it or they understood the basic concept of what was going on in the scene and didn’t need any further explanation. Sid seems to get on everyone’s nerves at one point or another, but no on casts him out. The scenes where he’s skating are really funny, as well as when he’s playing charades with Scrat, the little prehistoric squirrel who is mostly seen at the beginning and end of the film.
There are many good lessons in Ice Age that don’t come off feeling like it’s hitting me over the head with the message. One lesson is about including those who are different as it has a benefit in the end. There’s also an underlying message about not going with the group when you should know better, as well as standing up for what’s right even in the face of defeat. It would be nice if these life lessons were something they would remember and carry through their lives to when temptation to do stupid things in the name of being “cool” with their peers comes up, but I have my doubts on that one.
The animation is computer generated. This means little details like the rippling of fur on Manfred when he moves any which way is captured, giving it a very realistic movement. The backgrounds are not static, and usually flow somewhat with what’s going on in front of it. Sometimes it’s wisps of smoke curling up in back of the action. The scenes in the ice caves are particularly well done animation.
The voice for Manfred is Ray Romano. He gives Manfred the inflection of always seeming annoyed at everyone around him and wanting solitude that eludes him, yet there seems to be a deeper reason to most of what he says. I found myself feeling sorry for him as it seemed like he wanted companionship but all he had ever had was negative experiences prior to this situation and the bond he develops with Sid and Diego.
The voice for Sid is John Leguizamo. He handles the sloth with a good deal of comedy and earnestness to be accepted somewhere by someone. Whenever he meets anyone along the way he tries very hard to fit in and be accepted. Most of the time he is trying too hard and that is a lot of his problem. He’s totally loveable and doesn’t seem to seep over into obnoxiousness which keeps him from becoming a totally annoying character. Gilbert Gottfried doing the voice would have killed this character.
The voice for Diego is Denis Leary. He gives Diego an edge, but at times he seems to seep over into warmth. Diego finds acceptance with Manfred and Sid, but it’s not the “cool” status he always wanted, although he does seem to have a lot more fun with these two than he had with his original herd. I could sense a difference in Diego’s tone from when we are first introduced to him as the movie draws on. His voice seems to mellow a bit as his path becomes more muddy. This is especially true after Manfred saves his life under the auspices of “that’s what you do in a herd… you look out for each other…”
Ice Age is rated PG for mild peril. There’s also the question of how a child will react when the baby’s mother dies while saving him, so that’s something for parents to consider. On the DVD the film is available in anamorphic widescreen (aspect ratio 1.85:1) or a pan & scan version (aspect ratio 1.33:1). Audio choices are English 5.1 Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, or Spanish Dolby Surround. Subtitles are available in either English or Spanish.
I do recommend Ice Age highly for family viewing. This is a film my son will almost inevitably choose when I let him pick out a movie on a rainy day. My eleven year old likes it as well. Although the adult-level humor isn’t quite as good as those found in Pixar flicks, I do enjoy watching the film with my kids.
” Commentary by Director Chris Wedge and Co-Director Carlos Saldanha
” Three Interactive Games
” Eight DVD-Rom Games
” Animated Short Scrat’s Missing Adventure
” Behind the Scenes of Ice Age HBO Special
” Deleted Scenes (available with commentary)
” Six different production featurettes
” The Making of Ice Age documentary
” Scene-Specific Commentary by John Leguizamo as Sid
” Three Interactive Animation Studies
” International Clips
” Animated Film Bunny (available with commentary)
” Theatrical Trailers & Teasers
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Categories: Movie Reviews