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At the Movies: The Big Muddy:

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown


Sasha Stone

Mirror Film Critic

If you try hard enough, if you slump low enough, you might just be able to catch a few winks during a showing of Ice Age: The Meltdown, the unnecessary but inevitable follow-up to Ice Age. Most of the time, kids’ movies are engaging enough, peppered with the inappropriate zinger aimed at those above five feet. But this one? You could snooze for an hour and half and not really miss a thing.

Ice Age: The Meltdown comes into theaters as the teaser for the summer of movies to come, having gained the majority of its fan base after the DVD release; we parents know that the amount of good animated features out there is scant at best, and the first Ice Age was one of the better ones. While you may not end up a fan of Ice Age: The Meltdown, your kids surely will.

The second Ice Age installment, which topped the box office this past weekend and will likely have nice, long box office legs, takes place the moment the ice melts and all hell breaks loose. Manny the wooly mammoth (Ray Romano) and his makeshift herd (a motley crew not unlike the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and, well, you get the picture), the scene-stealing Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) and the brooding saber tooth Diego (Denis Leary), must come to grips with the way the environment is about to change around them. They must, as the Marines say, improvise, adapt and overcome. Or not.

One of the best things about the Ice Age films are how they slip in a bit of evolution humor, if you will. This time around, Manny fears he may be the last mammoth left on earth. When they stumble on a female mammoth, Ellie (Queen Latifah) Manny is cajoled into making a pass at her for the sake of the species. But as luck would have it, Ellie doesn’t realize she’s a mammoth because she was raised by possums after her parents abandoned her. One of the best sight gags in the film involves Ellie’s strange sleeping habits which require her to sleep upside down, hanging by her tail. Never mind that she weighs three tons.

But other than preventing the extinction of a creature that doesn’t adapt well to warmer climates, Ice Age: The Meltdown mostly dwells in the unreal. The animals aren’t put through an arduous journey of treacherous terrain and you know they’ll mostly get out alive. Most kids won’t stop to wonder if the ice really melted that fast or whether a saber toothed tiger really could befriend a mammoth and a sloth. But it might remind them of themselves for a moment or two.

Carlos Saldanha directed the film, having co-directed the first Ice Age movie with Chris Wedge, from a script by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow. The writing is nowhere near as witty this time around but it looks pretty enough. Queen Latifah is a welcome presence amid so many male characters. And Romano, Leary and Leguizamo are every bit as engaging and heartwarming as they were in the first film.

This Ice Age is an entertaining, if forgettable, way to start spring break. The reassuring part is that conversation has replaced wall to wall action. The characters just talk and talk and talk some more, following more the Finding Nemo plot line of friends and a journey. Still, you can’t go wrong with these characters. They are lovable enough to justify the second go-around.

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