Last time we met the cute little tusk-rodent known as Scrat, his eternal quest to keep his precious acorn safe caused him to plummet into the Earth’s core, make the planet spin uncontrollably by accident, and thus initiate worldwide earthquakes and eventually the Pangea breakup. In his latest movie, his acorn chase ends him up inside an alien spacecraft that launches into space, where he plays pinball with the planets, knocks an asteroid out of orbit and sends it soaring towards the Earth. Remember when Ice Age was just a heartfelt and semi-subtle family film about, well, the Ice Age?
By now, these mammals have lived through so many pre-historic events without either growing old or going extinct that I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they’ve seen the age of Homo sapiens and concrete jungles. There’s really no stopping you when these are the leaps in logic and realism you will make just to get more sequels out and sell more Happy Meals containing hideous mammoth toys. And no, the increasingly ridiculous and moronic slapstick scenarios that each new film entails aren’t improvements, nor are they in any other way excuses to make more. At least admit it’s all about the merch, and we’ll be as happy as one can be after seeing what’s basically Ice Age in Space.
In Ice Age: Collision Course, we reunite with Manfred the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the Smilodon (Denis Leary) Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), Ellie the other mammoth (Queen Latifah), and those two annoying possums who outlived their usefulness three movies ago (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck). A much more welcome return is that of Buck (Simon Pegg), the eccentric warrior-weasel from Dawn of the Dinosaurs, who knows of the impending threat from outer space and how to stop it. What a stroke of luck.
We got more characters returning from previous films, such as Manny and Ellie’s teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), Sid’s sassy grandma (Wanda Sykes), and Diego’s love interest Shira (Jennifer Lopez). Among the new players, meanwhile, are Adam DeVine as Peaches’ fiancé (I guess she broke up with the mole), Jesse Tyler Ferguson as an ancient llama who grants our heroes shelter in a sacred place, Nick Offerman as the leader of an amazingly pointless trinity of dinosaur villains, and Neil deGrasse Tyson as Neil deBuck Weasel. No punchline I could think of would make that sound dumber but at least this one is implied to be Simon Pegg’s character’s own doing.
With so many characters, there are of course multiple plots going on outside of the apocalypse. The most prevalent concerns Sid, who feels envious of Manny having a wife and child, Diego having a girlfriend, Peaches having a boyfriend, and Crash and Eddie being half-witted enough to complete each other. Lamenting the fact that he’s too dumb and smelly for anyone to hold dear, he gains hope of finding happiness along his journey. I don’t think I ruin any surprises when I reveal that he does indeed meet a cute girl-sloth voiced by Jessie J as they reach the llama’s safe space. Film-by-film, all three of the original “herd” plus Scrat have found love, and since it’s Sid’s turn I guess it was a must.
As for Diego and Manfred, their story arcs come straight from the bottom of the desperation barrel, with Manny acting out the old trope of protective helicopter parent who hates his daughter’s boyfriend (so he’s the exact same guy he was in the fourth movie) and Diego fearing that he and Shira will be unable to have to children. Not because of any horrific biological problem, mind you, but because he believes that the child would find him and Shira terrifying. Because no creature on the planet is more afraid of carnivorous cats than their own newborn offspring apparently.
As always, the one who offers up the best laughs in the film is Scrat. He’s still wonderfully animated, the lack of inept dialogue in his segments still allows for good visual comedy, and Chris Wedge’s vocals are still spot-on. If there’s anything I’ll miss now that the franchise is (supposedly) at an end, it’s him and his immortal acorn.
In defiance of what this film tried to do to what’s left of my cerebral databank, I do remember a gag from the very first film in the series where our heroes see a giant UFO encased in a wall of ice. One might wonder if this was foreshadowing, or if the writers just looked at random jokes from the original movie when trying to come up with the entire premise for yet another tiresome sequel. Either way, I can’t say I’m too fond of Collision Course, even if I’d love to learn more about what/who arrived to Earth in that ship.
For what it’s worth, this one is confirmed as the final Ice Age film, if such a statement is to be trusted from a studio that’s this desperate to milk a cash mammoth. The following trailer claims that it is the defining chapter of the world’s greatest “chillogy”, a pun that’s idiotic enough as it is if you somehow don’t know that the Ice Age franchise isn’t even a trilogy. The phrase “good riddance” has never felt so apt to use.
Addendum: Since Blue Sky are apparently done here, it’ll be fun to see if we’re in for a similar kid’s movie franchise now that Dreamworks are planning to release a Croods sequel. Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.