The ice age in the Ice Age series technically ended somewhere during the second outing, Ice Age: The Meltdown. Sadly, each entry has made more money than the last, thus necessitating more sequels, and thus necessitating more lapses in science and history. Few are hopefully taking their kids to these pictures for education, which is good since the fourth outing, Ice Age: Continental Drift, will teach them that super-continent Pangaea broke up after the most recent ice age (about 10,000 years ago) and not, oh, 200 million years ago. Even Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs—truly one of the most insane titles ever concocted by functionally intelligent people—at least came up with a semi-credible movie reason for dinosaurs to still be bumming around tens of millions of years after their extinction.
Then again, talking science is surely more thrilling to today’s ADD-addled kid than Ice Age: Continental Drift, a painfully mediocre enterprise that’s not even fun to mock. This time, our central trio—dull wooly mammoth Ray Romano, testy saber-toothed tiger Denis Leary (audibly bored) and dim sloth John Leguizamo—are set adrift atop an ice floe thanks to the violent shifting of plate tectonics. Few Americans saw Aardman’s fairly charming The Pirates! earlier this year, so there should be little carping that this one features buccaneers, too: a motley crew of villains, led by monkey Peter Dinklage, who sail a ship-shaped ice chunk.
Continental Drift scores a couple yuks from Wanda Sykes as Leguizamo’s crabby grandmother, but the funniest joke is Leguizamo mocking the last picture: “It didn’t make much sense, but it sure was exciting.” This one makes less sense and is thunderously vanilla, in part because instead of stocking its vocal cast with ringers (like Aziz Ansari, wasted as a rabbit) it goes with pop stars (J-Lo, Nicki Minaj, Heather Morris) whose schtick is sounding exactly like themselves. It’s corporate synergy and safety over invention and excitement, complete with a homily about the importance of family—a sentiment completely new to the world of family entertainment. As for the Maggie-centric Simpsons short that precedes the feature: At least it confirms that Ayn Rand’s true legacy is as a killer sight gag.