Consider the Scrat. Acorn-addict. So named on account of being a squirrel-rat mashup. He’s the quintessence of bug-eyed, paroxysmal, ultra-Type A, scuttling-squeaking-digging-snuffling-gnawing-scratching-flailing-shrieking, tunnel-visioned, mega-obsessive rodent hysteria. Has any creature ever portrayed such all-consuming addiction more purely?
One could argue, by the way he blissfully caresses his beloved acorn (after many harrowing close calls of being terminally separated from it), that this is love. This is not love. Scrat’s a junkie. “Hi, I’m Scrat. I’m a nut addict.”
Scrat (voiced by Chris Wedge) needs a meeting and a sponsor. He needs to work the steps. Not making fun of 12-step programs here, but a movie with Scrat attending an SNAA meeting (Seed & Nut Addicts Anonymous) could be good.
Scrat’s always been the star of this show. He’s such a perfect comedic manifestation—why would you only give him a mere 10 percent of stage time, as is the case in the derivative, copying-itself-endlessly, worn-out, fifth-time’s-not-a-charm, snore fest that is “Ice Age: Collision Course?”
Too Many Species Spoil the Soup
By now there are around 13 characters we’ve gotten to know; most of them are cloying, like Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), the piratical, eye-patch-wearing weasel introduced in “Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”
He’s highly theatrical, declaims loudly in a cockney accent, and sings Broadway musical-type numbers while swinging on vines, reminiscent of Eliza Doolittle’s dad in “My Fair Lady.” A little of Buck goes a long way, and after five minutes I wanted him silenced via a large mousetrap.
Manny the mammoth (voiced by the adenoidal baritone of Ray Romano) is opposed to his daughter Peaches’s (Keke Palmer) choice of fiancé, the pseudo-hipster Julian (Adam DeVine sounding exactly like Jack Black). Pseudo-hipster because he’s an insincere-sounding suck-up. I was opposed to the marriage as well.
Manny’s also in the doghouse for forgetting his anniversary, among other such sorry sitcom sludge.
But It’s the End of the World?
Yes. There’s a giant asteroid getting ready to smash earth to smithereens, compliments of Scrat having boarded an alien spaceship (because his acorn somehow got in there first, of course) and having had interstellar mishaps, creating our solar system by careening hysterically about in the flying saucer, ramming planets into each other, causing Saturn to plop into its rings like a billiard ball in the side pocket, and so on and so forth.
As mentioned, Scrat’s the good stuff. The rest of the characters are just filler: Diego the saber-toothed tiger is there to channel the (defanged-for-children) caustic wit of Denis Leary; Sid the Loser (not his actual name), the lateral-lisping sloth (John Leguizamo), finally finds a sloth girlfriend who’ll have his spineless, clueless self; and Sid’s grandmother (Wanda Sykes) brings the token, stereotypical Ebonics that must be in every children’s film. And then there are the insane, cornball possums, Crash and Eddie (Josh Peck and Seann William Scott).
New characters: a family of dastardly dinosaur-birds thrown in for some “plot tension,” and some creatures who live in a large geode crystal and do yoga, led by a New Age enlightenment-speak-blathering guru-goat. Oh wait, it’s a llama. Lama-llama, then.
I’ve always felt “Scrat” was the wrong name. Because Scrat is not just a half-breed rodent; you can tell by his dentition—he doesn’t have the telltale squared-off, double-chopper rodent front teeth of, say, Bugs. He’s got fangs. Very small ones, but still. I maintain he’s not just a half-breed squirrel-rat but also part coyote. I think Scrat’s the love child of Wile E. Coyote and Alvin the Chipmunk’s sister—he’s got his father’s determination, singleness of purpose, and teeth.
Jennifer Lopez as the voice of Shira. (John Russo/Blue Sky Studios/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation).
Look how much mileage (pun intended) they got out of a simple tale of a coyote and a roadrunner—oodles of episodes. They could do the same for Scrat. In the same way “The Road Runner Show” was all Wile E. and Road Runner, all the time, just do Scrat and his acorn, all the time. A new Looney Tune. They could animate the acorn (it’s a cartoon) and have it run away sometimes.
Who the Heck Knows?
But, ultimately, this is all adult-movie-critic twaddle. I’m going on about the needs of adults here. In my article “Proof That Film Critics Don’t Know What Kids Like,” I talked about a survey that found that the stuff adults, parents, and highly sophistimuhcated film critics care about, kids don’t.
And so children will mostly enjoy “Ice Age: Collision Course.” It’s got cuddly, prehistoric creatures who are hilarious! It’s loud, it’s colorful, it’s vigorously animated, and it’s 3-D. And that is all you need to know.
‘Ice Age: Collision Course’
Directors: Galen T. Chu, Mike Thurmeier
Cast: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, Adam Devine, Keke Palmer, Nick Offerman
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Release Date: July 22
Rated 2.5 stars out of 5