‘Ice Age’ sequel has more laughs than original | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Ice Age’ sequel has more laughs than original

Manny the woolly mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) gets some troubling news from Fast Tony (voiced by Jay Leno) in "Ice Age The Meltdown."

Is “Ice Age: The Meltdown” making a statement about global warming? A hidden meaning tucked in there between the furry mammals? Ah c’mon, Howie, it’s just a kids’ movie, right? Why read into it anything more than what it is: a cute animated flick with cute animals (and a few new not-so-cute animals, too)?

Bigger is better, and we get more of a good thing, and a relationship involvement, too! Dare I say that this is actually as good as the first one? Yes, it is.

Who cares about continuity? This is animation, for cryin’ out loud. OK, so first our band of hairy brothers had to escape the “Ice Age,” and now a meltdown of the glaciers? So soon? I was almost expecting “Chicken Little” to make a guest appearance and announce that, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Nope, can’t do that because that’s another studio altogether.

I will say this, though: 20th Century Fox did better this time around in the animation department than it accomplished in “Ice Age.” The quality may not be as sharp as Pixar or DreamWorks, but Fox’s Blue Sky animation department has gotten way better in the time between the original and this sequel. Expect the next installment (even if it goes direct to video) to be even better.

The original voices are back to inhabit their characters, including wooly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), everybody’s favorite self-absorbed, saber-toothed tiger, Diego (Denis Leary), and the sloth with self-esteem problems, Sid (John Leguizamo).

Along the way we’re introduced to some delightful newcomers, the principle character being the full-figured wooly mammoth, Ellie (Queen Latifah), who arrives not a moment too soon. Manny has been in this moping state of self-deprecation, wondering how he can maintain his species when Ellie gives him hope and an awkward reason to perpetuate the species. Only problem, though, is that Ellie thinks she is a possum! Welcome to the Pleistocene era! Joining Ellie are her two rambunctious real-possum “brothers,” Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck). And just like the first outing, the best stuff happens as the journey unfolds, making new friends along the way. Of course there’s a few unscrupulous characters who try to intervene in the process, but then what good would a movie be without the right versus the wrong here?

Like the R.E.M. song that implies “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” our band of beastly brothers must warn the other animals of the impending doom that awaits them because of the melting of the ice. They must journey across the valley to the rumored ark that will save them from the approaching wall of water that is rising, along with the tension that awaits. Do you get the feeling that this movie is a bit darker and biblical in scope? You bet.

It all starts when the not-so-trustworthy Armadillo named Fast Tony (Jay Leno) informs our friends that the end of the world is coming. He can save them from the impending Armageddon for only $19.95! You see, Fast Tony is a con artist, and not one to be trusted when it comes to honest information. Funny that Leno got to voice this particular role, too.

There’s also some menacing vultures who sing, so they can’t be all that bad, and other creatures with teeth that slice and dice. And let us not forget the comic relief character throughout the entire movie: Scrat. Yep, remember him? He was that weird, prehistoric squirrel that did anything in pursuit of that elusive acorn. This time out, though, he serves as the town crier between scenes, updating the audience on what’s happening with the ever-weakening ice dam in the background behind him, in addition to supplying his wicked sense of humor.

Speaking of humor, the laughs are actually better in the sequel when compared to the ha-ha factor in “Ice Age.” The humor is sharper and geared more toward the adults, while the visual aspects will please the kids and adults alike. There are various references to other movies here and a real jab at Disney. Look for the scene when two dinosaur-like creatures frozen during the Ice Age come to life when the ice caps around them melt. What would a cryogenic Walt have to say about that? Well, you’ll find out for yourself (hee hee).

– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout Northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8 and weekends on KMTN television here in South Lake Tahoe.

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