Ice-Age-3-ice-age-3-dawn-of-the-dinosaurs-25462549-1280-1024Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs should be titled Ice Age: Pray for Extinction; extinction for this lame animated franchise that has inexplicably limped along since 2002, spawning three movies, a couple of direct-to-video titles and several video games. These well intentioned, but dull movies (Ice Age and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown) are more an excuse to sell stuffed toys than to entertain. The new film is more of the same, introducing several new characters which seem primed and ready to take their place on toy store shelves in the movie swag section.

All the regulars are back—that’s 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 Scrat (Chris Wedge) the mute squirrel, and rare highlight in a film that tested my resolve to stay in my seat for the whole movie. Even the kids in the audience I saw this with seemed bored by the story of how life will change for the entire herd when Manny and Ellie’s baby arrives. Leading up to the birth there’s trouble in the pack but when Sid follows three newborn dinosaurs down to a strange and beautiful world underneath the ice the ensuing adventure—and a one-eyed weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg)—brings them together.

I’m almost too bored by this to finish writing the review, but I’ll forge on. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a deeply average animated movie (I didn’t see the 3-D version, but can’t imagine it would make much difference) with some nice messages for kids about the importance of family, loyalty, friendship and cooperation presented in the blandest, most predictable way possible. The voice work is middling, the animation is nice but not as eye catching as the recent work in Monsters vs. Aliens or Up and the story seems an after thought. In fact, the only truly entertaining parts of the movie have nothing to do with the main narrative.

The ubiquitous acorn from the first two movies is back, chased by Scrat, the most dogged squirrel ever seen on film. Scrat is the Ice Age franchise’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 gravity isn’t his greatest enemy. In a story line that seems edited in willy-nilly Scrat has some competition and perhaps even a love match in the form of a female buck-toothed squirrel named Scratte. Played back-to back these segments may have made a good stand alone kid’s short film, and in the process spared us the tedium of the rest of the movie.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs left me cold.