The predominant theme of Ice Age as a franchise is that family is everything. Each of the protagonists is looking for love on all the wrong continents, but they manage to find it one-by-one. First, Manny (Ray Romano) found his beloved mammoth Ellie (Queen Latifah), Sid (John Leguizamo) is always on the brink of roping in a misses, and in Continental Drift, it is Diego (Dennis Leary) that is on the brink of an extraordinary romance. Who says saber tooth tigers can't be warm and fuzzy?
Before love blossoms and romance blooms, Scrat caused the earth's land masses to shift dramatically. Not only is the world cracking up, the glaciers are melting. This immediately causes our big three Manny, Sid and Diego to become separated from Ellie and the kids. On the high seas the three leaders of the herd encounter the deadly, the menacing, the inimical...sea pirates. Lucky for them, Sid's grandmother (Sykes) has been marooned with them. Ellie and the kids have to survive on their own and are left to search for their missing half.
The leader of the pirates is the feared Captain Gull (Dinklage). Gull is a massive gorilla that actually does take prisoners but for life. He runs a tight ship...made out of a frozen glacier. When Manny and the gang survive the perfect storm no thanks to Granny's insanity and delusiveness, they chart a course for hearth and home. Unfortunately, the pirates stand in their way.
Captain Gull's fleet includes a sea worthy glacial vessel (hence the title Ice Age!), a capable though imprisoned crew, plenty of fruits to prevent them from contracting scurvy, and a hellcat saber tooth named Shira (Lopez). Lopez lends her voice beautifully to this ambiguous character. These pirates love a good sea song, and long for battle. Much of the film sees Manny, Sid and Diego battling the pirates and losing until the ultimate equalizer arrived (a giant whale, but I will not fully reveal his identity and spoil the surprise).
During the melee, director Steve Martino takes an interlude to show us the fate of everyone's favorite film short character Scrat. The wily and impetuous pseudo-squirrel (prehistoric rodent) finds a place that he couldn't have wished for in his wildest dreams, "Scratlantis". As the name implies it sinks, and it is both wildly depressing and hilarious at the same time. Poor Scrat cannot follow fellow philosopher Artistotle-Scrat's advice and rise above his bestiality. One colossal oops and all of the world's acorns are forever lost. Just why the hell doesn't Scrat ever eat the acorn? He must be starving.
Ice Age Continental Drift is a terrific animation film for children. It offers laughs, a few scares, plenty of intelligent cheesy jokes and a great 3D experience. It is unfortunate that there are so many messages about global climate change and the extinction of animals mixed in but having young people feel a sense of responsibility for the planet and all of its life cannot be a bad thing if reasonably employed. Watch Ice Age Continental Drift with the whole family folks, it is great midsummer fun.
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