This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Okaaaay, anyone remember 2002’s Ice Age? You at the back, sir, what did you make of it? Decent, but unremarkable enough such that you can barely remember anything about it? Congratulations, that’s right! While “not bad” provides an accurate and succinct verdict on the first outing, “not bad” doesn’t really demand or warrant a sequel. Thus, Ice Age: The Meltdown slinks into our multiplexes with a notable absence of fanfare.
Still, “not bad” doesn’t mean this film must drop the “not” part of it, and indeed in almost all respects Ice Age 2 proves to be just as decent, but unremarkable enough such that you can barely remember anything about it as Ice Age was. Having finished doing whatever it was that I’ve forgotten they did at the conclusion of the first film, Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) and the alliterative-naming-scheme-defying Diego the Sabertoothed Tiger (Denis Leary) find themselves at the head of a mixed herd of animals happily horsing about in a pond at the bottom of a glacier. Everything goes along swimmingly for all of five minutes, after which the impending Meltdown that signals the end of the Ice Age (see, not just a clever title) threatens to have things going a lot more swimmingly than they’d like. There is hope however, for lo, at the far end of the valley many days trek away lies a boat capable of delivering them from this evil. Better head off that way then.
In so doing they stumble across playful possums Crash (Seann William Scott), Eddie (Josh Peck) and suspiciously mammoth-sized Ellie (Queen Latifah). Having established that Manny thinks he’s the last of his species alive, imagine the comic potential of finding a potential mate who thinks she’s something else! Hoho, haven’t seen that one before! Oh, wait, we have.
That’s essentially your lot, kids. Sure, eventually Manny makes Ellie see the light, leading into a period of them getting all uppity with each other before the inevitable happy ending forged through Adversity and Mild Peril, and there’s a sub-plot about Diego’s fear of water and Sid being Fire God of a race of mini-sloths (but of course!), but there seems to be surprisingly little meat on the bones of this 90 minute beast. In fact, that little squirrel and his relentless search for his acorn has almost as much screentime as our supposed heroes, and winds up being far more responsible for their salvation than Manny and Co. are.
The surprising thing, I suppose, is that having said all of that in my patented overly-negative, dismissive fashion, Ice Age 2 is actually pretty decent. While you’d say something like Madagascar was a qualified semi-success for diverting kids and boring adults, Ice Age 2 manages to be far more acceptable to adult palettes despite not really doing a great deal to cater for them. Which isn’t really intended as a jibe, this is a kid’s flick after all.
Romano and Latifah manage to inject a fair bit of feeling into their little relationship-o-drama, despite the somewhat boilerplate nature of it. Josh Peck, Seann William Scott and especially John Leguizamo manage to be far less irritating than the sparse script would seem to demand they be, and Denis Leary is Denis Leary.
The question you probably end up asking yourself watching Ice Age 2 is “Why make it?”, and I’m not hugely sure there’s an acceptable answer. There’s the whole ‘make money’ deal which never seems to lose its popularity, of course, but other than that this seems to largely have been a list of (admittedly deeply amusing) squirrel / acorn sketches left over from the first film assembled into a framework that a fairly perfunctory storyline could be strapped around.
Which matters very little, when all’s said and done. Will your kids like this film? Yes, they will. It’s brightly coloured, occasionally loud, contains a goodly quantity of slapstick humour and the same effective stylised character designs evolved from the first film that on a visual level make this a very pretty film to be sat in front of, even if it’s not at the bleeding edge of whatever 3D package some nerd will invariably drone on about in the DVD extras. Will you like this film, O parent and/or childless adult? In all likelihood, yes, you will, but not enough to make it worth the bother of actually canceling any other plans to watch it. It’s a decent enough, relatively amusing flick, the sort of thing I can see being useful for whiling away a rainy Sunday afternoon but it’s hardly an essential viewing.
So, in short, “not bad”. See you for Ice Age 3, then.