Volume 95, Issue 88

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
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Bad Religion older than God and twice the punk

Funky rodent warms the Ice Age

Outside the Box

Not even Milla can save Resident Evil

Funky rodent warms the Ice Age

Ice Age

Starring: The voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary

Directed by: Chris Wedge

Four stars (out of five)

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo

What do you get when you come across a sloth, a mammoth and a saber-toothed tiger?

The answer, in this case, is Ice Age, a genuinely funny animated movie that should appeal to adults and kids alike.

The film opens with an extended version of its hilarious trailer, featuring Scrat – a wacky cross between a squirrel and a rat – looking for a place to hide his prized acorn. The rodent ends up inadvertently causing the Ice Age, forcing all the other animals in the film to migrate south in order to avoid the icy climate.

The film is full of distinctive and funny characters, including John Leguizamo as Sid, the motor-mouthed sloth who annoys his family so much they leave him behind when the migration begins. Sid is the quintessential movie sidekick – exasperating to the film's characters, but amusing and endearing to the audience.

Ray Romano's portrayal of the depressed mammoth, Manfred, is perfect as he turns Manfred into a dry-witted foil to Sid's wild, jack-in-the-box energy.

The interaction between Sid and Manfred recalls the pairing of Shrek and his donkey, as the two eventually bond despite their opposing personalities.

Denis Leary appears as the voice of Diego, a saber-toothed tiger who befriends Sid and Manfred on their quest to return a human child to its parents. Diego is secretly a villain and Leary does a fine job portraying him as sinister and underhanded.

Although there are some truly funny and unique gags in the film, the plot is mostly unoriginal, mixing and recycling elements of Bambi, Shrek, The Lion King and The Jungle Book. Thus, it is easy to predict how the story of the animals and the child will resolve itself.

However, most of the scenes are witty and endearing enough to make the audience forget the clichéd progression of the film towards its predictable, heart-warming ending.

Thankfully, the hilarious dialogue successfully outshines the contrived plot. There are enough stupid comments by Sid to keep kids laughing and enough suggestive details for older viewers to catch to keep them entertained as well.

The animation is impressive for the most part. The scene when cave drawings come alive is a particular standout, as is the scene during which the three hairy heroes and their baby unknowingly end up sliding into an ice tunnel.

The latter scene is reminiscent of Disney's Fantasia movies, as the characters frantically slip through the cave in time with the increasingly dramatic music.

However, the drawings of humans in the film leave a lot to be desired. The stereotypical interpretations of aboriginals as creatures that never speak but only grunt are one-dimensional and insulting.

One of the strongest points of the film is its clever use of humour to address some serious issues including adoption, friendship and death, instead of glossing over them the way movies created for kids usually do.

Between Shrek, Monsters Inc. and now Ice Age, parents and kids alike can rejoice at the dawning of a new era of animated features. These movies are imaginative, intelligent and, above all, extremely funny.

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