"Ice Age," the latest computer-generated animated film, begins precisely
as the popular teaser trailer did, with a down-on-his-luck squirrel
attempting to plant his beloved acorn in the ice, only to set off
an avalanche. Having seen this scene already on numerous occasions,
it has lost some of its comedic value, but remains charming. Scrat
the Squirrel makes sporadic appearances throughout the film (totaling
only about 10 minutes of screen time), and they are the highlights
of this otherwise disappointing family movie.
Set during the Ice Age, the real story involves three very different
animals--a rascally sloth (voiced by John Leguizamo), a droll woolly
mammoth (Ray Romano), and a sharp-edged sabertooth tiger (Denis Leary)--forming
an unlikely friendship as they set out on a journey to reunite a lost
human baby with his parents.
"Ice Age," directed by Chris Wedge, is slight and harmless, but little
else. Running just 75 minutes, the screenplay (by Michael Berg, Michael
J. Wilson and Peter Ackerman) seems almost dull and old-fashioned
when compared to the more clever, more original "Shrek" and "Monsters,
Inc." The dialogue has a few sparsely funny zingers, but the writing
is mostly unsophisticated and underdeveloped. Even the recent "Jimmy
Neutron: Boy Genius" was wittier.
The three characters--Sid the Sloth, Manfred the Mammoth, and Diego
the Tiger--progressively get more endearing as the film progresses,
but they are no match for the scene-stealing Scrat. It is greatly
dissatisfying that, regardless of the misleading trailers, Scrat is
barely on view. Director Chris Wedge hilariously voices the sounds
Scrat makes; hopefully he will one day get his own movie.
Like the unimpressive storyline, "Ice Age" boasts fine computer-generated
animation, but it is a step down from the ingeniousness of the "Toy
Story" series, the sheer audacity of "Monsters, Inc.," and the lifelike
movements of the characters in "Shrek." When humans are seen in "Ice
Age," they look passable, but move with less smoothness than has become accustomed.
In the annals of big-budget, modern-day animated excursions, "Ice
Age" is one of the lesser attempts. Aside from the appearances of
Scrat and a few touching character moments between Manfred, Sid, and
Diego, the film comes and goes with the blink of an eye without much
to think about on the way out. As a movie for children, it will undoubtedly
delight, but the adults in the audience will find themselves with
less than they expect to be entertained with.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman