118 – Ice Age

In Ice Age, a wooly mammoth named Manny (voiced by Ray Romano); a dull-witted, chatty sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo), and a fierce saber-tooth tiger named Diego (Denis Leary) join to bring a lost human infant back to his father. What peril over yon hill awaits these merry travelers?

Manny is the linchpin of the trio. He’s a lone mammoth, staying put when all others of his kind (as well as of any other kind) begin their yearly migration to a more arid climate. Manny is morose and a little bitter, but this is quickly recognized as a facade for a warmhearted mammal. He initially wants to stay a lone mammoth, but he’s soon joined by the ever-jabbering Sid, who’s a little short on both brain and brawn power. When a baby human is left behind by his dying mother, Sid convinces the immovable Manny to help transport the tyke back to his family.

The two are joined by Diego, a saber-tooth tiger who was in on the attack on the family and tribe of the young human. Diego’s been ordered to retrieve the baby by the head tiger, who wants to do all sorts of nasty and unspeakable things to the infant. Diego’s plan is to ingratiate himself with Sid and Manny, offering to take them to the area where they can meet up with the human tribe. Which is fine with Manny, who just wants to be rid of the kid – and Sid.

Ice Age, then is a good old-fashioned buddy pic. The three disparate animals, each outcast in very subtle ways, form a bond that has a common goal. Along the way, they face dangers more of the nature type than of the predator type, and each saves and is saved. But this isn’t a movie about great moral lessons; it’s a damn hilarious laugh-a-minute cartoon. It’s aimed at kids, of course, although the style of animation (it looks a little closer to Toy Story than, say, Looney Toons) can be appreciated by adults, too.

But what makes this such a cool movie is that the writing and the timing of the humor – and it’s heavy into physical comedy – are impeccable. Sure, it’s easier to do this with animation than with live action, but any movie at which I can laugh out loud, unprompted, at a near-constant rate is a surefire winner. Of course, at this point most kids have seen this – pardon me for being one of the last – but if you can still spot it in the theater, please do go.

Ice Age: 7.5

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