I know, four — I totally forgot about at least one of them.
Manny (voice of Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) may have fought dinosaurs and global warming but they now face their biggest challenge — raising teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). Peaches wants to hang out at the falls with the cool kids, particularly hot boy mammoth Ethan (Aubrey Graham), but Manny, always the overprotective dad, is not cool with that. He would prefer she hang out with her molehog buddy Louis (Josh Gad), who is bummed about being stuck in the friend zone with Peaches. Meanwhile, Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) is briefly visited by the family that abandoned him. While he had hoped for a reunion, they only stopped by to dump off Granny (Wanda Sykes). They are in a big hurry because it appears that the world is going through some significant changes.
As we’ve seen before in the shorts that have Scrat (the proto-squirrel) chasing an acorn on the Earth’s core and causing a crack-up of the super-continent, the world is undergoing some tectonic shifts. (Yeah, just forget about trying to fit this series into a timeline that, if you’ll remember, included in the first movie Manny and the crew caring for a human baby.) A wall of land is inching toward the spot our friends call home, threatening to push them into the sea unless they cross a land bridge a few days’ walk away. Unfortunately, the break-up comes fast and Manny, Sid, Granny and Diego (Denis Leary) are stuck on a hunk of land that sails out to sea. Desperate to get back to his family, Manny and the gang run into an iceberg of animal pirates, led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage, making a juicy meal of his villainous role — another argument for everything having more Dinklage). Finding a way home will mean escaping his crew — or at least most of his crew. Diego seems not so eager to escape Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a sleek gray saber-toothed tiger.
With the Peaches and Ellie storyline, we get a tale of teen crushes and a lesson about not being a jerk to your friends just to suck up to the cool crowd. In the Manny storyline, we get adventure and pratfalls. Throughout, there are scenes with Scrat, Wile E. Coyote to the acorn’s Roadrunner, some of which have appeared in shorts. It’s a lot of movie for your buck (particularly if you don’t bother with the 3D).
And Ice Age feels, as the series always has, about quantity of cartoon more than quality of story. It’s more Saturday cartoon than animated feature masterpiece. You have your wacky little squirrel for the tiniest viewers, your more developed stories for the older kids and, I guess, a few sarcastic asides for the parents. (One from Sid did actually make mention of the anachronistic appearance of dinosaurs in the last movie.) Nothing here feels exceptional, but it is all a notch above serviceable and even the 12-year-old I brought with me to the theater enjoyed himself. B-
Rated PG for mild rude humor and action/peril. Directed by Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier with a screenplay by Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs, Ice Age: Continental Drift is an hour and 34 minutes long and is distributed by 20th Century Fox.