U.S. Release Date:
March 15, 2002
Director: Carlos Saldanha (co-director), Chris Wedge
Producer: Christopher Meledandri (executive)
Cast: Cedric the Entertainer, Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo (Voice), Jack Black (Voice), Goran Visnjic (Voice)
Running Time: 1 hour and 21 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG (mild peril)
Re-issued on DVD, 20th Century Fox's computer animated Ice Age expands on its cute theatrical trailer featuring a non-verbal, Looney Tunes-like creature, Scrat, sprinkling his adventures throughout the picture. Skipping along at a steady clip, the tale of an improvised family tosses in comedian John Leguizamo's quirky humor and stretches into a piece of peppy entertainment.
The story isn't nearly as jokey as others in the crowded genre. Adult humor shows up, but Ice Age is relatively safe for kids by today's standards and it could have been worse. The main attraction is the picture's strong characters—talking prehistoric furries making their way toward a laudable goal—against the newness of glacial, blue and white visuals.
Woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano's voice) bucks the herd by going north for his own undisclosed reasons, meeting up with Leguizamo's fast-talking sloth, Sid, a childlike critter who tags along with the trudging tusk because he gains from Manny's protection. After a human village is attacked by a band of saber-toothed tigers—voiced by famous actors who are barely recognizable—the odd couple find a baby wrapped in a blanket. Loping Sid takes to the infant, whom they aim to return to his roaming tribe.
But gravelly-voiced Denis Leary's Diego—one big, bad cat—takes to Sid and Manny, because his leader (Goran Visnijic) orders him to bring the baby in for a feeding. That simple plot, whether Diego, pretending to be Sid and Manny's pal, will follow through on the scheme and eat the kid for breakfast—frames the movie's predictable conflict. As the trio—remaking Three Godfathers—venture across the frozen landscape, ice cracks, Sid wisecracks and the mystery of Manny is revealed in a touching display of classic animation.
Those tigers are usually prowling around, too, promising an exciting confrontation. Ice Age is broad and undemanding, freshened by the Road Runner-inspired Scrat and, especially, as the sentimental story goes, Leguizamo's digs in a voice best described as the sound of slushing saliva. Toning it down, Leguizamo manages to make Sid endearing.
Cuteness only goes so far, but the straightforward story's solid set-up, tracked to a steady pace, leads to fun if unsurprising exploits in this computer-generated cartoon.
Watching Ice Age on Fox's Super-Cool edition with lower expectations than in 2002 was a pleasant surprise. This movie, aimed at kids, holds up fairly well; it isn't completely jammed with potty humor and it retains the Saturday morning matinee appeal.
Fox put the material on two discs and, frankly, it's too much. Besides the movie in both pan-and-scan and widescreen versions and commentary by co-directors Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha on disc one, the second disc features include mini-bytes of whatnot, almost all of which was used on a previous DVD edition.
The newly produced Extreme Cool View Version is both enjoyable and educational. It's a third way of seeing the movie, in a split-screen view with pop-up facts and sidebar appearances from museum curators and academic experts on sloths—the ground sloth originated, like John Leguizamo, in South America—mammoths (males really did travel alone) and saber-toothed cats, which, contrary to the movie, stalked prey using stealth, not speed.
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