Ice Age Review
By Christopher Null
Only in the unique cosmology of animation do we find a world where animals can talk... and humans cannot.
Ice Age is in many ways the archetypal animated flick - updated for the computer era, of course. It's a road trip populated by quirky and mismatched characters, all on an unlikely quest that they'll never complete unless they somehow manage to work together. Ray Romano voices a burly mammoth named Manfred, who stumbles upon a lost human baby (well, homo erectus at least) shortly after rescuing a useless sloth (John Leguizamo). Manfred is content to leave the thing alone, but along comes a saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) intent on taking the baby back to his pack as vengeance for his brethren killed by human hunters. Unable to convince himself to leave the baby to the tiger (who claims he will return it to the humans), Manfred and co. all venture out together as part of an uneasy alliance... while the tiger schemes to lure Manfred into a trap where he may become dinner for a hungry pack of tigers back home.
Considering Dinosaur was a disastrous attempt at explaining extinction and evolution to kids, it's no surprise that Ice Age fares only marginally better at that task. As a buddy/road trip movie, the plot is surprisingly straightforward, a straight shot (and a mere 74 minutes until the credits roll) from introducing a gaggle of uncooperative species to the point where we are left with a scrappy little gang walking into the sunset (...of their species' existence).
Unfortunately, a straightforward plot may make this more palatable for the kids (though the one sitting behind eventually became more interested in kicking my seat and going home than in watching "that little guy" on screen), but it ultimately makes it a substantially dull experience. There are virtually no surprises in the story - and even Romano (who is sadly miscast in a role that should have gone to John Goodman) sounds bored. Even the animation, which admittedly makes the animals look good, gets monotonous, with almost every scene set against a backdrop of snow. Snow ought to present a curious animation challenge, but in Ice Age, it has all the complexity of white paint.
Altogether the movie's dull enough to merit a pass, though ironically most avid moviegoers will probably end up seeing it because it's a virtual non-investment of time and energy (and thought)... and because it will be the only place you can see Fox's trailer for the super-hyped Star Wars: Episode II.
Note to animated sloth: Try not to look directly at the camera.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 15th March 2002
Box Office Worldwide: $383.3M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 126 Rotten: 38
Cast & Crew
Starring: Ray Romano as Manny (voice), John Leguizamo as Sid (voice), Denis Leary as Diego (voice), Goran Višnjić as Soto (voice), Jack Black as Zeke (voice), Cedric the Entertainer as Carl (voice), Stephen Root as Rhino / Start (voice), Diedrich Bader as Saber-Toothed Tiger (voice), Alan Tudyk as Lenny / Oscar / Dab (voice), Lorri Bagley as Jennifer (voice), Jane Krakowski as Rachel (voice)