Ice Age: The Meltdown

Cast:
Ray Romano as Manny (voice)
John Leguizamo as Sid (voice)
Denis Leary as Diego (voice)
Seann William Scott as Crash (voice)
Josh Peck as Eddie (voice)
Queen Latifah as Ellie (voice)
Will Arnett as Lone Gunslinger Vulture (voice)
Jay Leno as Fast Tony (voice)
Chris Wedge as Scrat (voice)
Peter Ackerman as Dung Beetle Dad (voice)
Debi Derryberry as Diatryma Mom (voice)
Stephen Root as Aardvark Dad (voice)
Alan Tudyk as Cholly (voice)

Summary:
“Ice Age: The Meltdown” is a good follow-up to its predecessor. It features fun new characters, some great gags, and more antics by Scrat. However, some scary moments and profanity jokes make it more appropriate for older kids than younger ones.

Story:
This is the sequel to the 2002 film “Ice Age.”

As their prehistoric world begins to melt, Manny, Sid, and Diego find themselves in a virtual water park along with their fellow beasts. However, they soon come to the realization that disaster is looming. The ice dam that keeps their valley dry is melting and threatens to wipe them all out in a flood. (I guess it’s a prehistoric New Orleans.) All of the creatures head towards the other end of the valley where they have heard that there is an ark, of sorts, that can save them from the flood.

Manny’s situation is particularly unique in that everyone believes he’s the last of his mammoth species. They are proven wrong, though, when Manny encounters a female mammoth named Ellie while they are evacuating. There’s one little hitch – she thinks she’s a possum. Accompanied by her two possum brothers Eddie and Crash, she refuses to believe that she’s a mammoth but she joins our heroic trio for protection.

As the unique family of creatures flees the oncoming flood, they are threatened by some recently thawed aquatic dinosaurs, Diego’s fear of water, and a sloth cult that worships Sid. Will they be wiped out or will there be an “Ice Age 3″? And how will Scrat inevitably save the day?

“Ice Age: The Meltdown” is rated PG for some mild language and innuendo.

What Worked:
I enjoyed “Ice Age: The Meltdown” quite a bit. The film is wackier than its predecessor and features a lot less drama. This really increases the pacing of the story and allows more time for the characters to play up their strengths. Sid has more time to be the wacky heart of the group. Diego is allowed to be menacing and tough. Manny is more flabbergasted by his friends and he plays well off of Ellie. Finally, you have a lot more of Scrat and his Looney Tunes-style of antics. It all comes together to allow “Ice Age: The Meltdown” to take the best parts of the first film and build on them.

While the characters from the original return true to form, a few new characters are added that fit in perfectly with the cast. Leading them is Queen Latifah as Ellie. She’s funny and charming as a mammoth that thinks she’s a possum. She hangs from trees and creeps around with amusing results. Her naiveté plays well against Manny’s cynicism. Accompanying her are Seann William Scott as Crash and Josh Peck as Eddie. They’re kind of annoying at first, but they grow on you as the film progresses. They end up delivering some of the funnier moments of the movie.

“Ice Age: The Meltdown” has a number of great moments. Scrat returns to deliver most of them as he continues his never-ending quest for acorns. The interludes featuring him were all hilarious. Besides the antics of the possums, there’s a surreal musical number where a group of vultures sing “Food, Glorious Food”. It’s so delightfully morbid you’ll never think of the song in the same way again. Also look for funny cameos by Jay Leno, Arrested Development’s Will Arnett, Jimmy Neutron’s Debi Derryberry, King of the Hill’s Stephen Root, and Firefly’s Alan Tudyk.

From the animation point of view, it’s almost identical to its predecessor. There’s little change in the characters or environments. However, they do some impressive tricks with matted, wet hair on Manny and hair floating underwater. Those pieces of animation were very well done.

What Didn’t Work:
Parents should take special note of the PG rating for a couple of reasons. First, the movie is quite scary at times. When a couple of aquatic dinosaurs start terrorizing our heroes, it becomes rather intense. There are scenes worthy of a “Jaws” film featured here. Characters are attacked and eaten in shocking manners. Younger kids will probably be pretty scared.

“Ice Age: The Meltdown” also relies a lot on profanities for jokes early in the film. For example, Manny starts the film by telling some children a story about a burro. A kid corrects him and says the correct term is “wild ass”. Manny then responds by saying something along the lines of, “Fine, the wild ass boy was reunited with his wild ass mother and they lived happily ever after.” A short time later a beaver looks at a wall of ice holding back some water and yells out, “Dam!” Then shortly after that a father of a group of evacuating dung beetles says, “Do we really need to bring all this crap along?” Admittedly, it’s all rather minor and you’d hear worse things on prime time television, but it’s not necessarily stuff you want your kids repeating. I took my 4 year old to the film and at one point one of the possum brothers yells out, “Pervert!!” to Manny. My son then yelled out, “Pervert!” in the theater. At least he didn’t repeat “wild ass”. Fortunately, the language mostly happens in the first 5-10 minutes of the movie and doesn’t return. However, I think there was enough other funny stuff that they could have done that they didn’t need to rely on this kind of humor.

The Bottom Line:
“Ice Age: The Meltdown” was funny and entertaining, but I recommend it more for older kids. If you liked the first “Ice Age,” you should be very pleased with this sequel.

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