An outer space acorn adventure begins the earthbound struggle for survival in “Ice Age: Collision Course,” the fifth instalment in the popular animated series.
Fans of the franchise will recognize Scrat (Chris Wedge), the dogged squirrel whose endless pursuit of an acorn is at the heart of each of the movies. He is the “Ice Age’s” equivalent of Wile E. Coyote, a lovable but psychics defying acorn hunter often humiliated but never daunted in his quest for the elusive nut. This time his journey leads him to deep space where he puts a series of event in motion that endangers the lives of Manny and Ellie, the Wooly Mammoth couple voiced by Ray Romano and Queen Latifah, macho tiger Diego (Denis Leary), the annoyingly unlucky sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo) and the rest of the gang.
On earth the mammals are preparing to celebrate Manny and Ellie’s anniversary. All is going well except that Manny forgot to get Ellie a gift. Then, when the sky fills with beautiful colours it looks like Manny has arranged a fireworks display for his bride. In fact, the well-timed meteor shower that got Manny out of an anniversary pickle will lead to other world changing problems for he and his friends. “Manny’s love is killing us,” squeals opossum Crash (Seann William Scott). Enter Buck (Simon Pegg), a one-eyed weasel and a dinosaur hunter (“You may be Jurassic,” he sings to the dinosaurs in a Gilbert and Sullivan inspired tune, “but I’m fantastic.”), who has a plan to go toward the “planet killing space rock” rather than running away from it. “I know it sounds a sub-optional,” he says, “but we can change our fate.”
Mixed in with this story of survival are Peaches’s (Keke Palmer) upcoming nuptials, hockey lessons, a dance number and even a science lesson from Neil Degrasse Tyson. Each of these digressions from the main story does little more than bulk out the running time to a feature length of 94 minutes.
Like the other movies in the series “Ice Age: Collision Course” is less concerned with telling a story as it is with coming up with premises they can populate with characters that can be spun off into videogames and toys. Episodic and disjointed, there is none of the elegance of Pixar’s storytelling, just one event loosely connected with the one before it, after another. The result is a movie with few laughs and too many subplots masquerading as a story.
The best thing in the movie is Scrat who lives in perpetual desperation, always hankering for an acorn to call his own. He’s a classic cartoon creation, an elastic faced throwback to the Looney Tunes era. If they make another one of these let’s have more of him please, and less of the other mammoth bores that fill the screen.
It might be time to put the “Ice Age” movies on ice.