Photo Credit: Blue Sky Studios
Is it cold in here? That would be Ice Age 4: Continental Drift blowing into theaters across America! If you and your kids have been following the franchise since the beginning, find out if the fourth movie is worth attending with Common Sense Media's review.
Rating: Ages 6 and up: ON -- Content is age-appropriate for kids this age. (Ages 4 to 5: PAUSE -- Know your child. Some content may not be right for some kids. Age 2 and under: OFF -- Not age-appropriate for kids this age.)
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ice Age: Continental Drift is the fourth installment in Fox's popular prehistoric animal franchise. Even the youngest moviegoers will want to follow Manny, Sid, and Diego's latest adventures. Like Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, this one's in 3-D and features some cartoonish violence, mild romance, a smattering of insults, and some scatological humor. On the plus side, there are a lot of overtly positive messages about family and friendship.
What's the story?
Scrat's (voiced by Chris Wedge) never-ending pursuit of the almighty acorn leads him to the Earth's core, where he inadvertently causes prehistoric Earth's single supercontinent to break up into smaller pieces. Before things literally fall apart, Manny (Ray Romano) and his wife, Ellie (Queen Latifah), must deal with (stereo)typical adolescent defiance from their teen daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), who wants to impress heartthrob mammoth Ethan (hip-hop star Drake), even if it means dumping her faithful best friend, a molehog named Louis (Broadway star Josh Gad). When the Earth begins to shake, Manny, Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), Sid the goofy sloth (John Leguizamo), and his senile Granny (Wanda Sykes) are stuck on an iceberg that flows out to sea, where they encounter a band of pirates led by the menacing Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), an ape with no interest in the trio's desire to reunite with the rest of their herd.
Is It Any Good?
Ice Age: Continental Drift isn't the most inspired film in the series, but these characters are like comfort food -- pleasingly familiar. The original threesome is now middle-aged, and with their age come new problems, particularly for overprotective father Manny. The new setting (at sea) doesn't leave room for much breathtaking animation, but the action sequences are pretty spectacular in 3-D, even if the story is a little flimsy. At least Scrat gets more screen time than ever (and if there's an animated creature bound to tickle every single member of the audience's funny bone, it's the Sisyphean Scrat).
Continental Drift's new characters/storylines are both hit and miss -- things fall flat with the teens (Louis and Peaches are cute, but the young mammoth clique featuring the voices of Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Glee star Heather Morris is just an annoying attempt to capture the tween audience), but the addition of Granny is rather genius. The addled but hilarious sloth grandma is by far the breakout new character, and her silly comments and constant muttering will win kids over and make even jaded parents laugh aloud. Girls will also be taken with the low-key love story that develops between Diego and Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a pirate tigress who needs a lesson in the meaning of camaraderie. While it's not the best animated adventure you'll see, Ice Age 4 is sure to please the kids.
What families can talk about
Families can talk about the franchise's defining message about the meaning of family. What defines a family? How is Sid's "biological" family a disappointment compared to his herd?
Is Peaches a believable teenager? Why are teens embarrassed by their parents? How do Peaches and Manny reconcile their difference of opinion?
Do the Ice Age movies feel complete now, or would you like to see another one? How does Continental Drift compare to the three others? Which one is your favorite?