Continental Drift left me numb. My children, though, had stronger feelings.
I've recently learned a few things about ice ages. First, owing to the endurance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, we are still technically in the midst of an ice age that began toward the end of the Pliocene epoch, a hair over two-and-a-half million years ago. But ice ages have colder periods (called "glacials") and warmer ones ("interglacials"). What we typically refer to as "the ice age" is the most recent glacial period, which ended some 10,000 years ago.
I bring this up because, cinematically speaking, the interglacial period we have enjoyed for most of the last three years ends today and a new glacial is upon us, in the form of Ice Age: Continental Drift. And while scientists are not predicting mass species extinctions, it never hurts to prepare for the worst.
What can be profitably said of Ice Age: Continental Drift? That it is the franchise's fourth installment? That I would have been perfectly content if the interglacial period following the third had lasted 10,000 years?
Tom, 8, said the film was "the best ever." I should note, though, my kids tend to believe that any recently concluded activity was "the best ever."
Ice Age: Continental Drift is an Ice Age movie, and those who have seen any of its predecessors will have a reasonably good idea of what to expect. Manny, Sid, Diego and the rest of their burgeoning "herd" take a journey, encounter predators and natural disasters, engage in wacky antics, and learn valuable lessons about friendship and family. I'm sorry to report that Simon Pegg, who was a pleasant vocal surprise as the one-eyed weasel Buck in the last movie, has only a miniscule cameo in this one, and the many new celebrity talents assembled for this outing—Jennifer Lopez, Peter Dinklage, Wanda Sykes, and others—do not make up for his absence. The animation has continued to advance, as it is wont to do, and a few early scenes of avalanche, tidal wave, and tornado, are pretty spectacular. But put the metaphorical gun to my head and I'd say Ice Age: Continental Drift is worse than the first and third franchise iterations and probably on a par with the second.
And that's really all I've got to say on the topic. In an animation era in which making kids movies that also appeal to adults is all the rage, the Ice Age franchise is pretty resolute about making kids movies for kids. And, as it happens, I had two companions at the screening—Tom, 8, and Alex (as in Alexandra), 6—who had considerably stronger opinions regarding the film than I did. Yes, this is the part where I outsource my critical role to my children. If you are the kind of person who (quite understandably) abhors this particular gimmick, you may wish to stop reading now.
So, how does this movie compare to the previous Ice Age movies?
Tom: The best ever.
Alex: The best. Funny and very adventurous.
[I should note here that the views expressed by my children are solely their own, and do not express my views or those of The Atlantic. Also, though my kids are discerning in many respects—for example, when it comes to what they will contemplate eating for any given meal—they have a powerful tendency to believe that any recently concluded activity was "the best ever."]
Who was your favorite character?
Alex: Granny [Sid the sloth's dyspeptic grandmother, voiced by Sykes], because she's so funny.
Tom: I really liked Captain Gutt [the villainous simian pirate voiced by Dinklage]. He was good at fighting, but maybe a little crazy.
What didn't you like about the movie?
MORE ON MOVIES
Alex: The head of the pirates shouldn't have been a monkey. He should have been a bear.
Tom: There should have been more with Sid's family.
Tom: I liked it when Scrat was bouncing up and down on the core of the Earth.