“Ice Age: The Meltdown” avoids the chilly sequel syndrome
Fortunately for those who enjoyed 2002’s “Ice Age” the follow-up doesn’t melt down by following the on-the-cheap formula of so many animated blockbuster sequels. Instead, 20th Century Fox (with animation by Blue Sky Studios) seems to have cloned the successful pattern of “Shrek 2” and “Toy Story 2.” Those rare sequels were arguably better than their predecessors, and they accomplished this by understanding that that the animation had to be better, the jokes more plentiful (and just as funny), and by offering up some out of the blue surprises.
The scorecard for “Ice Age: The Meltdown”? Check, check, and check. Manny the doleful woolly mammoth (Ray Romano) returns with buddies Diego, the snippy saber-toothed tiger (Dennis Leary), and Sid, the goofy, lispy sloth (John Leguizamo) to help lead a group of fellow prehistorics to safety in the face of a threatening glacier flood. Apparently, global warming was a hot topic thousands of years ago as well. Come to think of it, Manny reminds one of Al Gore, coincidence?
Several new characters are introduced. A much needed female persona in the form of Ellie (Queen Latifah), who may be the only other surviving woolly mammoth but thinks she is a possum, and her two furry siblings Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott, Josh Peck).
“Ice Age: The Meltdown” is essentially another road trip. But what makes this film worth the journey are the focus on Sid’s hilarious histrionics (forever digging at Manny, one of his trail songs: “If you’re the last one of your species, clap your hands…”), the brilliant inclusion of more antics by Scrat the acorn-obsessed proto-squirrel, and two out-of-nowhere musical numbers that are almost worth the price of admission alone.
With nods to the Roadrunner classics, Busby Berkeley musicals, a little environmental political correctness, and some good messages about teamwork and confronting your fears, this is one sequel you will be glad didn’t go straight to video. And with nothing quite like it playing in theaters, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” might even bank more cash than the original. Parents should be warned that this is a “PG” rated film and does have some mild but rather jarring profanity, completely unnecessary, of course.
Rated PG for some mild language and innuendo.