Ice Age - * * *

“Ice Age” is a very enjoyable trip into the way distant past – never mind that the exact date we’re landing upon is somewhat ambiguous. You will immediately find yourself sucked into Pixar’s icy world by a hyper-active squirrel trying to save one last acorn. He runs, slides, digs and generally bounces through the winter landscape running into troubles at every turn in a way that reminds one of Wyle E. Coyote, except well—faster. But that’s just the warm up (don’t worry he comes back to us throughout the movie in bits of flawlessly timed comic relief), the main event is watching a wooly mammoth named Manfred (voiced by Ray Romano from tv’s “Everybody Loves Raymond”), a sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo from “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” and “Moulin Rouge!”) and a sabertoothed tiger named Diego (Denis Leary from “The Ref” and tv’s “The Job”) team up to transport a human baby back home.

The friendship, the journey and all that begin when Sid wakes up late for the big migration. His family has left him behind. We start to understand their “oversight” as we watch him get into one scrape after another prompting even the vegetarians towards blood lust. Manfred comes along and begrudgingly pulls him out of a mess or two and after that he can’t shake Sid despite the fact that he is heading North into the ice rather than South with all the other animals. When Manfred and Sid happen upon a dying mother trying to save her infant, they take up the plight of getting the baby home. The task is complicated when they discover that the family has picked up and migrated since the baby was lost. “Assisting” them is Diego who leads the unlikely crew on their pursuit of the humans, all the while plotting to get the baby away for his own dark purposes.

In the end, if you remember not to let little things (like the somewhat silly take on what makes a herd or the fact that the animals don’t much less eat one another on their big journey) bother you, you won’t regret it. These discrepancies don’t detract from the visually pleasing style, the humor or the engaging qualities of “Ice Age”. Focus your attention on the expressions on Manfred’s face (he has an especially expressive trunk), the “grab you by the throat and shake the laughs out” physical comedy and the delightfully written dialogue. Pay your attention to these elements and the bombastic squirrel (truly, you’re going to love this squirrel) and you’re sure to walk out with a smile on your face no matter how old you are.

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