Ice Age

Ice Age

2002, PG, 81 min. Directed by Chris Wedge. Voices by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic, Cedric The Entertainer.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., March 15, 2002

This prehistoric buddy pic has a heart bursting with good intentions, something that goes a long way in dimming from memory its inherent routineness. To be fair, it's a routineness that mars most American children's animation, descendants all of the Disney school of storytelling. A 20th Century Fox production, Ice Age trucks out all the well-tread tenets -- mouthy sidekicks, a couple of splashy songs, the irksome murdered-mother motif -- and wraps them up in a pleasant package. To the filmmakers' credit, it's the “pleasant,” not the “packaged,” you walk away with. As the Ice Age looms, herds pack up and head to warmer climes; left behind are a snoozing sloth named Sid (Leguizamo) and a grumpy, emotionally wounded mammoth, Manfred (Romano), who becomes Sid's unwilling protector. Chance further cements the odd couple's union when they stumble across an abandoned human child and decide to return him to his rightful owners. A too-helpful tiger, Diego (Leary), comes along for the ride, but for reasons less altruistic than Manny and Sid believe: Diego's den leader has ordered him to bring the baby back to the pack for a gourmet feast. The majority of the film is consumed with the trek across a land fast icing over (the visuals are exquisite), and with the personal journey of these three unlikely companions. In short, it's the touchy-feely we've come to expect, but glinting through the cracks are some surprisingly progressive ideas about living in harmony in the midst of nature's unavoidably antagonistic food chain. (Carnivore parents may cringe when kids push away tomorrow night's meatloaf, citing Manny the vegan mammoth as their spiritual guide.) The evolutionary premise is mined for solid laughs, certainly some of the smartest humor of Ice Age; its overall wit isn't quite as sharp as Diego's saber-teeth. Yet Romano, Leary, and Leguizamo, with their metronomic timing and vox box theatrics, prove once again why comics are so good at voiceover work. The real delight of the piece, however, is mostly silent: a running gag starring a part squirrel/part rat (that's “scrat”) who only wants to bury an acorn for the winter. A tough task indeed for a scrat living in the time of rumbly plate tectonics. Director Wedge provides scrat's squeaks, shrieks, and groans in these wonderful, mostly wordless set-pieces that sneakily recall the glory days of Looney Tunes.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Chris Wedge Films
Monster Trucks
Boy meets monster, adventure ensues

Steve Davis, Jan. 20, 2017

Epic
This imaginative 3-D animated fantasy takes place in a forest world.

Louis Black, May 24, 2013

More by Kimberley Jones
We Have an Issue: Guns Among Us
We Have an Issue: Guns Among Us
In this week’s issue, we report on a deadly confrontation Downtown, and the newly released footage of the Michael Ramos shooting

July 31, 2020

We Have an Issue: Welcome to the Drinks Issue
We Have an Issue: Welcome to the Drinks Issue
Who needs a drink?

July 24, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Ice Age, Chris Wedge

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle