Friday, July 13, 2012

"Ice Age: The Meltdown" is Good, Too

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 240 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some mild language and innuendo
DIRECTOR: Carlos Saldanha
WRITERS: Gerry Swallow and Peter Gaulke and Jim Hecht; from a story by Gerry Swallow and Peter Gaulke
PRODUCER: Lori Forte

ANIMATION/COMEDY/ADVENTURE/FAMILY/FANTASY

Starring: (voices) Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, and Queen Latifah, Will Arnett, Jay Leno, and Chris Wedge

The three-member herd from the hit 2002 film, Ice Age: Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) returns in the hit sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and an impending natural disaster inadvertently adds members to this small family.

The deep freeze of the Ice Age is over, and the ice-covered earth is starting to melt, especially the gigantic glaciers that enclose the cherished valley where Diego, Manny, and Sid live. Reluctantly, the trio accepts the fact that the valley will be flooded, so they’re forced to leave. They begin a journey to the other side of the valley where supposedly awaits a boat that will save them from the flood. Along the way, the trio meets Ellie (Queen Latifah), a mammoth who thinks she is a possum, and her two possum brothers, Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck), a rambunctious, prank playing duo. Manny, who thought he was the last mammoth, is anxious, but also reluctant to make a friend (or maybe more) of Ellie, who is standoffish with Manny. The trio turned sextet will have to stick together if they’re going to survive the impending flood and two deadly new enemies that are silently stalking them. The prehistoric squirrel/rat, Scrat (Chris Wedge), is also back and still fighting to retrieve that one special acorn.

Ice Age: The Meltdown is one of those sequels that improves on the original, and the filmmakers did that by adding characters that aren’t just new and novel. The new trio, Ellie and the possum brothers Crash and Eddie, is also actually highly entertaining. Both Ellie and the actress who gives the character her voice, Queen Latifah, have endearing personalities and no-nonsense streaks. Queen Latifah’s Ellie and Ray Romano’s Manny actually make a good couple, as Ellie’s sassiness and Manny’s cutting attitude mesh.

Denis Leary’s Diego is still a good sidekick, and John Leguizamo’s Sid is ever entertaining comic relief. However, Crash and Eddie steal their thunder. The animators and writers created supporting characters that would be great as stars in their own cartoons (think the penguins from Madagascar). It is, however, Seann William Scott and Josh Peck who make them truly winning characters, as they breathe life and personality, turning potential into triumph.

On one hand, Ice Age: The Meltdown could have been a pedestrian sequel, but this movie is a good example of how animators and voice actors can take any kind of material and turn it into a winner just by mining their talents to make the right choices. It’s a heady mixture of storytelling, art, and entertainment, and that means Ice Age: The Meltdown will always be more than just an obligatory sequel to a very popular movie. I really didn’t want this fun and heartwarming tale of a patchwork family to end.

7 of 10
A-

Thursday, November 23, 2006

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