The cast/crew bit: directed by Steve Martino, starring Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Legizaumo
The ten-word synopsis: It’s an Ice Age film. No more words are needed.
The word ‘film’ up there in the title is perhaps pushing it a bit. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is less of a ‘film’ and more of an economic machine. Ice Age films make lots of money. The first one took 6 times what it cost to make. The second made a similar figure. From a business point of view, Ice Age 4 makes sense.
From a historical point of view, however, they’re still taking liberties. There’s one gag early on addressing this (Possibly the films’ only laugh-out-loud moment, blown by me in the second paragraph). Personally, I’m also all for people playing around with history, although the series has lost any educational claims it may have in its inception. However, it’s impossible to get angry about this. It’s impossible to get angry about anything in the film. It’s an Ice Age film. There’s nothing offensive in the slightest. It’s so flaccid, so middle of the line. It’s almost difficult to talk about.
The whole ‘Scrat and the acorn’ routine is beginning to run dry after four films and a number of shorts worth of milking. Save for perhaps two sniggers from a brilliantly brief opening and surprisingly grand ending, (Which sets up Ice Age 5 pretty nicely) his segments no longer bring the light entertainment level he provided in the first three films. Admittedly, the opening section explaining the titular continental drift is almost funny, so credit where credit’s due.
The main plot involving Sid, Diego, Manny and ‘the crew’ is up and down. There are actually some more almost funny bits about Sids’ family, and there’s actually one other genuinely funny bit, a Scott Pilgrim-apeing ‘L Word’ joke which is actually really well delivered by Ray Romano, who actually does quite a good turn as an idiot character, to be fair to him.
There’s also some sort of pirate subplot, which seems both pointless and a bit rubbish, especially in comparison with Aardmans’ excellent The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists from earlier in the year. As somebody who saw that film 5 times in the cinema, animated pirates were on the verge of grinding on me, so to see them sans Aardman charm might have driven me over the edge. That said, Nick Frost follows in the footsteps of his mate Simon Pegg in taking on a role in an Ice Age movie, providing some very good delivery for some average lines, again bringing his bits up to almost-funny. And going on this, I assume it’s safe to say Edgar Wright will be directing the next instalment.
That would be a dream, actually, as Wright would no doubt bring some sort of edge to what is a totally unimaginative kids comedy. Yes, the film makes sense. But you can’t help but feel that, considering it’s a guaranteed box-office success, why not take a risk? Have some fun- Write a more courageous script. Give it a more arty directorial feel. It’ll take plenty of money anyway. Kids are not stupid. Don’t treat them as though they are.
5 William Wallace-aping little fluffy creatures out of 10