PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

'Ice Age: Continental Drift': This Time, Sans Dinosaurs

Illogic has always been a point of odd pride for the Ice Ages.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Director: Steve Martino, Michael Thurmeier
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Keke Palmer
Rated: PG
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Year: 2012
US date: 2012-07-13 (General release)
UK date: 2012-07-13 (General release)

Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) has never been especially quick, but near the start of Ice Age: Continental Drift, he comes up with a zinger. The occasion is a surprise visit from his parents, Eunice (Joy Behar) and Milton (Alan Tudyk), during which he tries to convince them that he's led a worthy, adventurous life since they abandoned him. "We fought dinosaurs," he announces, alluding to the previous Ice Age movie's plot. "It didn't really make sense, but it was fun." And with that, his parents abandon him again.

The moment makes clear a few things about this fourth installment of the franchise. First, even if illogic has always been a point of odd pride for the Ice Ages, it actually seems less fun than lazy. (If you were an eight-year-old who had questions about that dinosaur business, too bad.) Second, the story of Sid is here a focus, if only to introduce his toothless granny (Wanda Sykes), whom his parents have brought along in order to leave her with him, that is, to abandon her along with him. (Just saying: this may be a less than hilarious scenario.) And third, the movie means to make a lot of fun of the toothless granny. (Perhaps granny jokes are the new fun.)

In fact, the movie means to head directly to the well worn formula of the previous installments. Like more than a few kids' movies, it makes use of trauma in pursuit of humor. In this case, Sid and Granny's traumas are only introductory: the much larger, more alarming trauma involves the creation of the continents, here initiated by yet another effort by Scrat (Chris Wedge) to secure an acorn, an effort that splits open the earth from the core outward (the plot, more or less, of a previous Scrat short).

These drifting continents occasion another trek for the trio of Sid, Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), and Diego the sabre-toothed cat (Denis Leary). When the land heaves and breaks off, Manny is horrified to be separated from his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and now teenaged daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) -- and all three are horrified to find that granny is on their drifting chunk of turf. As the trio tries to get back to the others and the others make a march to a land bridge Manny spots as he floats away, the movie cuts between their efforts, pretty much randomly.

This randomness becomes more glaring as the two groups engage in separate and wholly unoriginal adventures. If the basic land break-up reminds you of Voyage to the Center of the Earth and Happy Feet 2, the pirates who find Manny and his crew will remind you of, oh, you name it, everything from Pirates of the Caribbean and The Pirates! Band of Misfits to Peter Pan and Muppet Treasure Island. The leader this time is a big bully of an ape named Gutt (Peter Dinklage), who has to explain that his name comes from his inclination to gut his enemies. (Really, where's Bill Nighy when you need him?) He's attended by his own crew of uninspired sidekicks (including Aziz Ansari as a rabbit and Nick Frost as an elephant seal) and instantly inspired to hate Manny when the mammoth uses his giant weight to thwart his plan to make Sid and his granny walk the plank.

As predictable as all this pirate business may be -- including a forgettable song and dance about how they came together -- its primary purpose appears to be to slow down Manny's journey back to Ellie. And oh yes, to introduce Diego to his new girlfriend, Captain Gutt's first mate, who happens to be a female sabre-toothed cat, Shira (Jennifer Lopez). While her flirtations with Diego move Manny and Sid to engage in oh-so-ancient sitting-in-the-tree rhyming, Shira mostly seems another instance of rip-off, as her wasp-waisty figure and catty eyes seem drawn directly from Tigress (Angelina Jolie) in Kung Fu Panda, not to mention Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain) of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

At the same time, in the movie's other too familiar plot, Peaches follows in her mother's gigantic footsteps, crushing on a guy, Ethan (Drake) whom her father dislikes. While Manny has to learn to appreciate his daughter's sense of independence (which is a little like his own), she also comes to see his experience and wisdom when it comes to being loyal to best friends. In Peaches' case, that friend is a plucky molehog named Louis (Josh Gad), whom she dumps pretty much as soon as Ethan and his pack of small-minded, gossipy, and cruelly judgmental mean girl mammoths (voiced by Nicki Minaj, Ally Romano, and Heather Morris) start making fun of him.

Poor Manny, who so misses his family. Poor granny, who misses her teeth. Poor Peaches and poor Louis. And oh yes, poor Scrat, too, injected into the body of this movie in order to chase his acorn. You're almost glad to see Ellie, who pops up conveniently to offer sage advice to her daughter. By the time these storylines come together, you may be wishing the continents had just drifted right over them.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.