Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)

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As the inevitable pop song blared over the soundtrack and all the voice actors proceeded to sing along while their avatars finally danced I tried to convince myself that this series could not get any worse.  Bare minimum, they have resisted the temptation to do the sing and dance along that has become the standard in end credit throwaways.  But then I remembered another series that seemed to have a limited shelf-life and lasted forever, The Land Before Time.

That juggernaut went on to rival the Friday the 13th films for a near-endless lineage finally capping out at 13 films over a nearly twenty year span.  Those films at least had the talents of Don Bluth who sporadically produced brilliant work.  These Ice Age films have never been anything more than a substandard cash-in on the boom of the computer animation market.  They never had the heart of their Pixar forebears and couldn't even work in the wit of the Shrek series (itself victim to diminishing returns.)

This fourth film is a mess.  Subplot after subplot is tacked on to an already strained premise until there are nearly 10 stories running parallel to each other.  Only one is funny and most would struggle to provide meat to Hannah-Barbera shows at their most overextended.  It's time to free the talent involved to do something else other than destroy the prehistoric world one more time.

The Scrat subplot once again involves completely implausible acts of destruction that are wonderfully constructed and divorced from anything else going on.

There are so many characters and plots running around I'll ground the basics with the original trio.  Manny the wolly mammoth (Ray Romano) has settled down with his wife and teenage daughter (Queen Latifah and Keke Palmer) who is starting to become interested in the local hunky mammoth who is into extreme sports.  All the while she doesn't realize that her molehog (Josh Gad) friend seems to be in-love with her.  Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) is visited suddenly by the family who abandoned him just long enough to drop off his grandmother for him to take care of.  His grandmother (Wanda Sykes) keeps talking to an imaginary "Precious" who loves her.  Finally there's the sabre-tooth Diego (Denis Leary) who may have finally found love with Shira (Jennifer Lopez), another lonely traveler that the trio meets on their journey.

Got all that?  Now, keep in mind that each one of those relationships I explicitly outlined gets screen-time in addition to the ongoing friendship between the trio with time for wordless asides with Scrat the sabre-toothed rat's (Chris Wedge) ongoing quest for the perfect nut.  All of this is packed into a film that, despite the bloated relationships and plot-lines, lasts only 80 minutes.

Oh yeah, the world is also coming to an end again because the continents finally cracked into the landscape and there are pirates.  And the Siren's from The Odyssey.  Feel free to message me if I'm missing anything because the film was hard enough to follow despite the simplistic plots, but it felt more like I was preparing for an exam analyzing my ability to comprehend the film rather than enjoy it.

The pirates are a boring leftover from the Hanna-Barbera days of plot construction.

I can't imagine what nightmare the storyboard conferences must have been like for this film.  Directors Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier never get a firm handle on any of the stories because they are blended together like a dadaist poem.  What were the screenwriters, Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs, thinking?  There's no humor in any of the plot-lines for the adults, the children are likely to be fitfully entertained but restless during the many relationship segments of the movie, the good slapstick is relegated to just the Scrat scenes, and the main trio's personalities seem to have almost unrecognizably blended together.

John Leguizamo still does what he can to differentiate himself from the herd but before long everyone starts to sound alike.  The story is so dashed together that someone with the potential for intensity as Denis Leary ends up sounding like the shy molehog.  These films have never been known for their great animation and still haven't figured out a way to get around the mostly static facial features of the leads or any of the other animals.  So if there's no quality animation, aggressively thrown together plot-lines, and personalities that were once individual but now approaching monolithic - what is there to recommend?

Scrat.  There's always Scrat.  But that doesn't enhance the other seventy-five minutes of this mess, it just makes me wish he'd leave this dead pasture behind for sunnier lands.

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Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)

Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier.
Screenplay written by Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs.
Starring Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, and Denis Leary.

Posted by Andrew

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