Just in time to make the Madagascar franchise look refreshing, it’s Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth installment in the popular Ice Age series. Take any film and drag it out over three sequels and you’re bound to get diminishing returns. Do the same with a middling animated film, and things start to get ugly. What it really comes down to is this is just another Ice Age movie, like all the other Ice Age movies, running ad nauseam on an infinite loop, over and over and over. A hundred years from now, they could be making the same Ice Age movies and, more than likely, no one would mind. At the end of days, there will be nothing left but cockroaches and Ice Age movies.
The film brings back Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), the overbearing wooly mammoth; Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) the macho saber-toothed tiger and Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), the idiotic sloth. This time — after a cataclysmic earthquake — the trio is forced out to sea on a floating iceberg, and must make their way back home, but not before facing off against pirates, who are led by the simian Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage).
That’s most of the film, with slight diversions involving the Ice Age version of Wile E. Coyote, Scrat and some lessons learned about family, friends and other nauseatingly dull schmaltz. The movie is Saturday morning cartoon basic, relying heavily on slapstick and formula. Besides Sid’s grandmother, voiced by Wanda Sykes — whose entire career has involved being the best thing in terrible comedies — there’s nary a comedic bright spot. This is a movie — like the bulk of cinema directed toward kids — that’s meant to sell Happy Meals, and within that context, I suppose it’s a success.
The voice acting — which includes series newcomers like Peter Dinklage and Nick Frost, amongst a slew of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Drake and Nicki Minaj — is strong, yet so many people are shoved into thankless, perfunctory roles, so no one shines. Instead, we’re subjected to stylings of Romano and Leguizamo once again, which the rules of the market and box office dictated long ago should be kept far, far away from movie theaters. Asking that the same should happen to this movie is obviously too much to ask. Rated PG for mild rude humor and action/peril.