Around the early 21st century computer animated family films had really taken off. Through the recent hits of Shrek and Monster's Inc, people started seeing money in this business. So in Blue Sky's first ever animated film they may have not been very original but the film known as Ice Age has enough charm and laughs to be very acceptable.
The film takes place in the Ice Age when a sabertooth cat, a sloth and a mammoth take in the care of a lost baby and attempt to return it to the humans who have lost it.
Now the story is really a cross between Shrek and Monsters' Inc. In Shrek we have the lonely character (in this film is Manny) getting crossed in the path of a lovable idiot (Sid the Sloth) that is faced with a quest and in this film it's returning the baby. Returning the baby part is just like Monster's Inc. where the characters have to return a little girl back to her room. So really story wise the film isn't that original and it's not like a good homage, it feels a little too noticeable in places. Usually when a film does this it takes me right out of the movie but because of the characters and the funny stuff they get themselves into I can't help but ignore this "big" problem.
The characters are the best part of the film. Manny the Mammoth is the lonely character that would rather be left alone then be bothered by anyone else. He doesn't like people (or the other animals) and he really doesn't want to deal with stupid things. Yet for an animated film he has a rather deep character with a dark past that is explored in more detail later in the film. But also he is really funny making the sarcastic remarks and other smaller jokes that is really funny. Ray Romano really shines in this part and makes a mark as a different character and doesn't play Raymond Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond.
The next character is the stupid and lovable and funny Sid the Sloth. He isn't that deep of a character but he really doesn't need to be. All we need to know is that he cares a great deal about the rest of the characters and just wants to be accepted. Other than that he really is "the funny guy" and he is really funny. John Leguizamo creates a very memorable character filled with great jokes and gags and memorable lines.
The final character out of the main ones is Diego the sabertooth cat (tiger)and he is another fantastic character. He is at first set up as the villain and throughout the film you can never tell whose side he is on but you can tell that he starts to care for the other characters. Denis Leary voices him and is a great talent and a great voice. He can be serious and funny at the same time and just like the rest gives us a great show.
As a bonus we get a side character named Scrat. He is the Wild Coyote of our times. He presents us with no dialogue but a good dose of some fantastically funny slapstick humor that will always make you laugh. The character has nothing to do with the story and he is just there to give a few extra laughs and the character works.
The humor is the film is very well done. It may not be ground breaking by any means and some jokes are recycled from other films but really the rest of it works completely. We get slapstick humor, smart humor and some plan old good old fashion jokes. All work well and should be enjoyable for every age group.
There are also some good animated action sequences, some of them really fun (like the ice cave sequence) and some of them very tense and exciting. All of them of course have jokes in there even the more serious sequences with the exception of the fight at the end. These sequences are great for people of all ages and will be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Another thing the film has is a lot of heart. Throughout the film you get this theme of family and love and even loyalty along with friendship. Parts where Manny's Character is explored more is very touching and might even come as a surprise. Also near the end where we finally see Diego as he true self is also very touching and well done. Also where the characters first save the baby after the rest of the humans lose it is also very well done. In fact this film was originally supposed to a Drama instead of a family animated film but Fox would not accept it as a Drama and wanted it to be a family film. But I think a lot of the Drama Elements still carried over to the final film without being in your face about it. The film has a lot of themes and really a lot of heart which is something that is missing is a lot of recent non-computer animated films.
The animation on the film is really good too. It might not be as good as Pixar or DreamWorks buts it wasn't trying to be. The film has animation that looks very good and state of the art but it maintains a more classic animated film. So the animation is good but it's nothing grand and I think it works for a film like this.
The Bottom Line is this is a very funny animated film that has some great animated characters and is very well drawn out and funny and even though the film sometimes feels like a copy of other films the film has enough charm and touching moments to make us forget about it.
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