Just Melt Already

Ice Age 4 is a needless sequel

First came the God particle, the Higgs boson. Then came Ice Age (2002). Then, Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006). Then Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009). And now arrives Ice Age: Continental Drift, informally known as Ice Age 4, also known as a paycheck and a likely haul for all involved at Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox.

The new picture contains a valuable lesson in recycling. It opens with what I believe is a slightly abridged version of Scrat’s Continental Crack-Up, the Ice Age short Fox showed in front of the Jack Black Gulliver’s Travels two years ago. Preteens might not know the word “rerun,” since it belongs to B.C. (before cable) days of yore, but it’s time they learned it.

Another chunk of Ice Age 4, with the key characters getting thrashed in the waves, is a recycling job as well, footage from a short preceding Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. You know what I feel like doing right now? I feel like digging out an old review of an earlier Ice Age movie and repurposing it, which will give me time to go do something else for a few minutes, like mow the lawn or water the lawn. Or bake a crumble.

Ice Age 4 separates the woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano) from his family, for a while, as the land masses creak and groan, though not as loudly as the script’s jokes, especially the ones ending in the word “booger” or “puke.” The saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) finds a mate, voiced by Jennifer Lopez. John Leguizamo’s sloth, Sid, becomes caretaker of his abandoned grandmother. Peter Dinklage voices a nasty pirate orangutan. The tone of the banter in Ice Age 4 is wearying sarcasm punctuated by frequent death-threats and pummelings and 3-D action sequences that reduce the entire experience to a sledding run.

The actors do what they can, because that’s what they’re paid to do, damn it, although in a sequel such as Ice Age 4 much of the acting comes to something other than voice-over work. It’s more like whoooaaaaaa!-over work. Big wave coming! “Whooooaaaaaa!” The directors Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier keep it moving.

It’s not very funny, but your kids might like it. For the record.