The Ice Age is on the horizon and Manfred the Mammoth(Ray Romano) and Sid the Sloth (John Lequizamo) find themselves taking care of a baby human as they try to find a place to live. Meanwhile, Diego the sabertooth tiger (Denis Leary) is on his own mission to retrieve the baby as a bit of revenge against the humans. The three have to work together to bring the baby back alive, but back where is the question.
I feel kind of bad about what I’m about to say about this movie. It really feels like some fresh college grad’s first project after majoring in graphic design, getting a big budget and big names and wanting to rush out something to show his work. But there isn’t a single thing about this movie that proves to me that anybody making it has any talent. The thing is, these guys actually do have a lot of talent. The movie was directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha. Wedge won an Oscar for a beautiful short film he did called Bunny, while Saldanha went on to make one of my favorite movies of 2011, Rio. These guys have talent in them but it just doesn’t show here in their first film. Everything about this feels rushed, lazy and generic.
First of all, the story here just sucks. They play it safe with the lame premise of animals having to take care of a human baby. This leads to hijinks a-plenty with them having to take care of the baby, with pretty much every single joke you see coming just from me explaining that premise. They try to put in some character development with Manfred having lost his family to hunters. This could have been interesting if they went more in depth with it, but they just ignore it after addressing it. Diego is an incredibly dull anti-hero whose story is predictable and uneventful from start to finish. The worst though is Sid, who exists solely for the purpose of comic relief. In a comedy. And it’s not like he just says dumb or “funny” things, which he does to an unbearable extent. There are also a lot of moments where they’ll just throw in a gag that serves no purpose other than being a gag, like cutting to a shot of him stepping on a stick and having it fly up and hit him in the face. It just exists there for two seconds and could be cut out of the film without anybody knowing, like they just added jokes like that in because they realized it wasn’t funny and thought that would help. Well, it doesn’t.
If this didn’t have such big names in it (and I hadn’t seen it in theaters myself when it first came out), I would honestly expect this to have been a straight-to-video release based not only on the story and humor but especially on the animation. It’s incredibly minimalistic, with characters describing “powerful packs of tigers” that amount to three or four total. When we see the humans there are only about five males and no females aside from the mother of the child, who only exists for plot convenience and forced emotion. The designs on all of the characters, especially the humans, are freakish in a bad way and show just how basic the animators’ skills were at the time.
Again, I kind of feel bad saying stuff like that because it does seem like Fox was putting together this film using all new people, but that’s not how you make a movie to be released as big as this was. I think the biggest problem with Ice Age is that it’s far too safe and too much of an experiment on the part of the animators, the writers and the production company. The whole thing just feels like a cash grab of the lowest form and the humor did absolutely nothing for me.