This is how far cartoons have descended in the last decade and a half: The Lion King was Shakespearean, while Ice Age is Everybody Loves Raymond-ean.
In the series’ third installment, Dawn
of the Dinosaurs, Ray Romano’s Manny
the mammoth is about to be a dad. You
don’t need to see the movie to know that
there will be jokes about females stressing
out about gaining baby weight: “Do
you think my ankles look fat?” Manny’s
pregnant “wife,” Ellie (voiced by Queen
Latifah) asks; “What ankles?” he repiles.
Complications ensue as Sid the sloth (the
voice of John Leguizamo), also longing for
parenthood, adopts three dinosaur eggs.
Have young-Earth creationists taken
over 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky
Animation? Well, no, there’s a perfectly
acceptable fantasy explanation. It all
has to do with a lost world under the
ice, where giant reptiles escaped that
big meteor and survived for another 65
But that doesn’t bother me as much as projecting sitcom-dad neuroses onto a cartoon mammoth. Here are a couple of things that we should allow to become extinct: the stereotypes of men as unemotional idiots and women as shrill nags who must be endured as a curse of the fates, or something.
There are bright spots. The Scrat, the
sorta-squirrel, sorta-rat creature who
has eyes for nothing for acorns, finds
a lady love this time around, a Scrat
with long eyelashes and a killer instinct
for acorn gathering herself. But, Simon
Pegg brings the only inspired voice performance
as Buck, a weasel lost in the
lost world and gone slightly mad in his
attempts to survive a realm of killer
dinosaurs who’d love to snack on him. He
gets all the best lines, too, as if the writers
were tired of the existing characters
and could manage to raise their flagging
enthusiasm for the series only with
his fresh, ferrety blood. Buck’s hilarious
and, in his own unique way, not as a sorry
reflection of a worn-out clichés.
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah