'Ice Age: Continental Drift' ranks as series' best

July 13, 2012 

Ice Age: Continental Drift is the fourth film of the series. Continental drift — thus the title — separates Manny, Diego and Sid from Ellie and the rest of their friends, and from Manny and Ellie's now teenage daughter Peaches.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Manny, Diego and Sid are trapped on an iceberg and are drifting out to sea. Manny tells Ellie, Peaches and the rest to head for a land bridge.

He promises to meet them there.

Getting to the land bridge involves a confrontation with a gang of pirates led by the evil ape, Captain Gutt. His crew includes a gorgeous sabertooth tigress and a goofy elephant seal. They sail the seas on an iceberg that looks eerily like a galleon.

Side stories have Sid's long-lost family dropping off his dotty grandmother before disappearing again, and a father-daughter conflict between Manny and Peaches over boys and dating.

After catching Peaches where she wasn’t supposed to be, she asks her dad, “So tell me, when exactly will I be allowed to hang out with boys?” Manny’s reply is classic. “When I'm dead. Plus three days, just to make sure I'm dead.”

A great line in a movie full of great lines.

Jennifer Lopez adds star power to the cast voicing the tigress Shira but the film’s two scene stealers — other than the half rat, half squirrel Scrat — are Peter Dinklage who voices Captain Gutt and Wanda Sykes doing Granny.

Dinklage (The Game of Thrones) is a brilliant actor whose vocal work creates the series’ best villain. Sykes provides the comic relief with a performance that ranks quality-wise with the work done by Eddie Murphy and Ellen DeGeneres as Shrek’s Donkey and Finding Nemo’s dorky Dory.

Not getting to relatable personalties until a fourth film is not the fault of a very talented vocal cast.

The first movie had nine writers. That’s about six too many.

No. 2 kept one of the original directors and lost the other, and only had four people doing the script. An improvement but not much.

The third film gave fourth film co-director Mike Thurmeier co-directing duties and had five writers.

That’s still three too many writers, and it bombed.

For film No. 4, the producers team Thurmeier with Horton Hears a Who’s Steve Martino and they hired just two writers -- Michael Berg from the first film and newcomer Jason Fuchs. Less is more and definitely better.

Ice Age: Continental Drift opens -- as all the films have -- with Scrat chasing his ever-elusive acorn. He’s also found in short segments throughout the movie. That leads to a question that has been asked since the series’ inception. Why doesn’t someone give Scrat his own movie?

Maybe the less is more theory provides the answer.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Stars: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lopez, Peter Dinklage, Keke Palmer, Wanda Sykes, Joy Behar

Rated PG for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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