When the ice shelf suddenly cracks in two, mammoth Manny (Romano) finds himself adrift with sabre-tooth Diego (Leary), sloth Sid (Leguizamo) and Sid's toothless granny (Sykes). But as they attempt to get home, they're waylaid by a pirated iceberg sailed by Captain Gutt (Dinklage) and his scurvy crew.
Meanwhile, Manny's wife Ellie (Latifah) and their mildly rebellious daughter Peaches (Palmer) are trying to outrun the shifting continental plates. And the film's real star Scrat is on a hunt for a hidden acorn treasure.
This franchise grabs onto whatever genres it likes, and this time the filmmakers play with every seafaring adventure cliche they can think of, plus a bit of Braveheart and, in the parallel mother-daughter story, some parent-teen family issues. But nothing about the plot matters at all: what keeps us entertained is the wacky banter between the characters, plus some enjoyably eye-popping animation, which makes especially good use of 3D gimmickry.
Once again, the screenwriters throw a rather huge number of new characters at us, never bothering to stick to the realities of the various species, from limber mammoths to fast-moving sloths. Dinklage's flamboyant baboon is such a crazed scene-stealer that he could easily sustain a spin-off film. Sykes gets all the best lines as the feisty Mr Magoo-like crone. And Lopez is on hand as a white tiger to give Diego a bit of trouble ("Don't call me Kitty!"), plus a rom-com subplot.
Fortunately, the filmmakers keep everything moving so briskly that we don't have time to focus on the gaping holes in the premise. The high-energy set-pieces are often surprisingly thrilling and the songs are both silly and witty. There are also some surprisingly hilarious touches, including each character's encounter with a siren and the rather deranged conclusion to Scrat's search. Even so, the very best thing about this film is the Maggie-centred Simpsons short that precedes it.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th July 2012
Box Office USA: $161.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $875.1M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Fresh: 48 Rotten: 83
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Producer: John C. Donkin, Lori Forte
Starring: John Leguizamo as Sid (voice), Ray Romano as Manny (voice), Chris Wedge as Scrat (voice), Denis Leary as Diego (voice), Seann William Scott as Crash (voice), Jennifer Lopez as Shira (voice), Queen Latifah as Ellie (voice), Peter Dinklage as Captain Gutt (voice), Nick Frost as Flynn (voice), Josh Gad as Louis (voice), Nicki Minaj as Steffie (voice), Heather Morris as Katie (voice), Wanda Sykes as Granny (voice), Alan Tudyk as Milton / Hunky Siren (voice), Rebel Wilson as Raz (voice), Aziz Ansari as Squint (voice), Joy Behar as Eunice (voice), Christopher Campbell as Creature Siren (voice)
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