Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) (& The Longest Daycare)

Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) – So I’ve enjoyed the Ice Age franchise well enough, but I can’t say it grabbed me the same way more of Dreamworks’s stuff has, and nowhere near on the level of Pixar’s stuff. I enjoyed Rio from the same animation studio, Blue Sky. The story of Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabre-tooth tiger (Dennis Leary), and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) always entertained me but I never really felt that invested in the characters. I don’t think I even saw all of Ice Age: The Meltdown (though it was played somewhat regularly where I worked so I got the gist of it). The exception to my blasé attitude towards the series is Scrat (Chris Wedge). Oh dear God, do I love that little guy. To me, Scrat is one of the greatest original cartoon creations of the 21st century. His bits just so perfectly encapsulate that mad Chuck Jones energy that still makes the Road Runner and Coyote cartoons my favorite of all time. So, while I generally expected to be entertained by the movie as a whole (they’ve tended to be cute), I was mainly looking forward to more Scrat.

As usual, the movie is about family. Manny is having trouble being overprotective of his teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). She has a crush on a boy mammoth (Drake) but feels like an outcast because her mother (Queen Latifah) was raised by possums (think that was one of those parts of The Meltdown I missed). Meanwhile her molehog friend Louis (Josh Gad from The Daily Show and The Book of Mormon) clearly has a crush on her (how would that work exactly?) and she doesn’t notice. Also Sid’s ne’er-do-well family dumps his Granny (Wanda Sykes) on him to take care of. Anyway, because of Scrat’s endless pursuit of acorns (!), the tectonic plates of the earth have begun to shift and Manny, Diego, Sid, and Granny are separated from the herd and drift out to see on a large block of ice. There they encounter the merciless ape Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) and his band of prehistoric pirates (rabbit Aziz Ansari, elephant seal Nick Frost, badger Kunal Nayyar, kangaroo Rebel Wilson, and sabre tooth tiger Jennifer Lopez). Can the gang overcome these obstacles to get back home? (It’s a kid’s movie, what do you think?)

I was a little disappointed that the first Scrat segment I had seen already (before Rio if I’m not mistaken) but it was still funny. I think I liked this one a little more than the last Ice Age movie, Dawn of the Dinosaurs (though I missed Simon Pegg’s character). Also Peter Dinklage is a great actor who has range greater than his physical stature will allow him to portray in Hollywood so it is great to see him as a physically imposing villain. Plus, pirates! Pirates are always fun. (Okay, USUALLY fun…) There is a love story subplot between Leary’s Diego and Lopez’s Shira, but it doesn’t add too much to the movie. I mean it’s basically the same as Leary’s “I’m a bad guy but I want to be a good guy” storyline from the first film… only gender-flipped. If you’ve got wee ones, this would be a good movie to check out with them (provided they’ve already seen Brave). As usual, I did love the Scrat cartoons and wish they would make more shorts with him and put them before many many more movies. Back in the old days, they used to have cartoon shorts before every movie. There is not a single movie today that wouldn’t be improved by that. Speaking of…

The Longest Daycare (2012) – The Simpsons is one of my all-time favorite shows, but that is based almost entirely on the first ten seasons. The show still has a great episode here and there but sadly the glory days of the show when it could do absolutely no wrong are behind us. (I did like the movie quite a bit though.) Now this is a cartoon featuring the mute member of America’s favorite yellow family, Maggie Simpson. It returns her to the Ayn Rand School for Tots from one of the series’ greatest episodes, “A Streetcar Named Marge.” Some of the sign gags alone gave me flashbacks of The Simpsons at its peak. Anyway, the (silent) short concerns Maggie being denied entrance to the “advanced” toddler area and deposited with the rejects. A think ray of hope comes in via the butterflies that pass through but Maggie’s old nemesis, the unibrowed baby Gerald, is set on smashing them. But Maggie will have none of it! The short has a great look to it. It’s animated in the tradition Simpsons 2D style, but layered with the 3D (oh yeah… Ice Age was in 3D… did I forget to mention that?) to create a really cool-looking effect; an effect cooler-looking, in fact, than the 3D effects of the computer-generated feature that followed it. Since it precedes a kids’ movie, The Longest Daycare is more family friendly than your average episode of The Simpsons (thought the Ayn Rand jokes are sure to soar over the heads of the wee ones). It is pretty funny though and strengthens my arguments for more cartoons before movies.

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  1. […] Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) (& The Longest Daycare) – I wholly agree with this: Since it precedes a kids’ movie, The Longest Daycare is more family friendly than your average episode of The Simpsons (thought the Ayn Rand jokes are sure to soar over the heads of the wee ones). It is pretty funny though and strengthens my arguments for more cartoons before movies. […]

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