Ice Age


Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Written by:Michael Berg, Michael Wilson, Peter Ackerman
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic, Jack Black
Released: March 21, 2002
Grade: B+

I’m feeling a little frosty having returned from a screening of the new 20th Century Fox animated film, Ice Age.  In the currently screening A Beautiful Mind, John Nash spent years searching for an economic theory to validate his college scholarship.  I’d like a Noble Prize too so I’m going to put a simple theory to you.  When it comes to animation, box-office is correlated with the ability to follow the standard formula.  Let’s have a look at my working papers...

Let’s look at their three big computer animated successes of the past twelve months - Shrek (Dreamworks), Monsters, Inc (Pixar) and now Ice Age (Fox).  Respectively they opened with $42m, $62m and $46m in their opening three days of release in the United States.  So there’s no question about success but what many may not realise is how similar these two films are.

Has anyone seen The Odd Couple?  All three films borrow heavily by having two male leading characters who despite seeming completely incompatible, discover the importance of friendship.  These films may be targeted at a young audience but surely there must be a new message worth reiterating?  Both Shrek and Ice Age involve a long journey where they encounter many obstacles.  Both Monsters, Inc and Ice Age involve a baby being returned to their parents.  In addition to the screenplay, all three films rely on cutesy-poo characters who suck in the kiddies and help reap millions of dollars in merchandise sales.

On its merits, Ice Age is a good film.  It’s about a mammoth named Manfred (Romano) and a sloth named Sid (Leguizamo) who are forced together when left behind after their fellow animals migrate south before the ice age sets in.  Meanwhile, a pack of sabertooths has targeted a human camp in retaliation for their tiger killings.  They want a young baby as a sacrifice but the baby escapes and finishes in the hands (or should I say trunk) of Manfred.

Reluctantly, they understand they must return this child to its parents and begin the journey.  A sabertooth named Diego (Leary) befriends Manfred and Sid and offers to join their party to help guide them to the humans.  They accept his offer but of course Diego has an ulterior motive and has no intention of guiding them to the humans...

Animation is top notch but that is nothing spectacular in today’s non-ice age.  Most jokes were disappointingly targeted at the younger audience.  Shrek showed you can equally entertain the full-fare paying adults who unlike the kids, aren’t purely satisfied by a shaggy mammoth with a funny looking trunk.

Despite my documented criticisms, you can’t hold a grudge against the innocence of Ice Age.  When kids giggle and scream with laughter all the way through, how can you knock it?