Cinematic Releases: Ice Age - Collision Course - Reviewed

The latest Ice Age movie opens tonight. Find out what Mike thought. 

The Ice Age series is one of the most popular and prolific family franchises of the last several years, bringing in over $700 million in the US alone.  The 2002 original starred Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo as prehistoric animals banding together to save a human baby and survive the titular ice age.  As three sequels followed, their families grew, adding wives, kids, and a menagerie of funny and adorable new characters to their adventures.  This summer brings the fifth (and if the trailers are to be believed, final) chapter of the animated saga, Ice Age: Collision Course.

Has anyone seen Fred Flintstone?

Collision Course is a movie with a lot going on.  The main plot deals with some pretty heavy apocalyptic themes as the tribe of animals must find a way to survive the impact of a coming asteroid that would surely wipe them out.  The mortality theme never seems to weigh too heavily though—this is a kids’ movie after all.  Besides, there are plenty of other distractions, such as a suspicious family of feathered flying dinosaurs led by patriarch Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation).  There’s also a pretty basic Father of the Bride subplot as Manny the mastodon (Romano) comes to terms with his daughter’s upcoming wedding.  And what would an Ice Age movie be without an appearance by the acorn-chasing prehistoric squirrel Scrat?  There are the usual unifying themes of family and togetherness seen throughout the Ice Age series, but it’s not always as simple and coherent as it should be.

Acorns are much  healthier than crack. 
There are a few chuckles to be had here, mostly at the expense of unlucky-in-love sloth Sid (Leguizamo), or in the form of the usual fart jokes and things of that nature.  One of Collision Course’s biggest drawbacks is its sprawling cast.  Earlier installments were more satisfying because they kept it simple.  Manny, Sid and Leary’s saber-toothed tiger Diego had a fun, heartwarming adventure, and that was enough.  As the families grew, so did the cast (notable additions include Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah and Simon Pegg), shifting the focus to an ensemble that seemed to value star power over simplicity.  All of this seems like it should be fun but gets to feeling a bit bloated by the time the fifth movie rolls around.  The resulting film is appropriately cute and funny, but still a bit of an unsatisfying mishmash.

The Ice Age series subscribes to a basic formula, and for the most part the formula works.  But Collision Course, like the last couple of Ice Age movies, tries to do too much and ends up being a bit distracting and even hollow.  The film’s biggest downfall may be opening just weeks after Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets, two superior animated choices that are still packing theaters.  Even with Ice Age’s brand recognition, being just “okay” may be enough to get Collision Course lost in the summer shuffle.  Ice Age: Collision Course is just a tad too busy to be as fun or funny or genuine as it would like to think it is.  Kids will love it, but will probably forget about by next week, while still cuddling their stuffed Nemo.

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-Mike Stec