5 May 2006 | Ronald_Mexico
Not a meltdown, but definitely a lukewarm sequel
Having now seen the film three different times (don't ask), I finally feel at least knowledgeable enough to write an adequate review. The original "Ice Age" was a good, not great, movie and I figured that the sequel would be more of the same. And that's exactly what the sequel turned out to be: a few chuckles sprinkled here and there, a nice talent addition in Queen Latifah, and a plot interesting enough to follow without falling asleep in the process. But a highly memorable film, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" was not.
The plot: the Ice Age is ending, and the herd from the original film (Sid, Diego, and Manny) must move to higher ground or risk drowning when the great ice dam collapses. Subplots include the introduction of new characters (Latifah as Manny's female mammoth counterpart Ellie and two possums named Crash and Eddie), Manny's worry that his species is on the verge of extinction, Diego's internal struggle with his irrational fear of water, and Sid's discontent over not being respected by the rest of the herd.
The characters themselves are a mixed bag of successes and failures. John Leguizamo and Denis Leary were once again very strong as Sid and Diego, respectively; the lisping voice of Sid is distinctive and endearing, while Denis Leary's dry menace makes you want to laugh even when nothing funny has been said. Queen Latifah is also highly effective as Ellie and provides her share of laughs throughout the film. However, Ray Romano's voice 'talents' appear to consist solely of reprising the same annoying character he portrayed for nine years on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (yes, if you were to close your eyes during scenes where Manny is speaking, you would almost swear that you were listening to a whining middle-aged man trying to combat his pushy, know-it-all wife. Try it for yourself and see). Romano's nasal voice combined with the surly nature of the mammoth end up creating a lead character that is fairly unappealing, which may not exactly be a coveted quality for a kids' movie.
And then there is the addition of Crash and Eddie, both of whom combine to make up what must surely be the greatest comedy duo since Scott Baio and Willie Ames. It's not that they're spectacularly annoying, or that they're bad enough that they detract from the film; it's just that they aren't very funny. Clearly their role is to provide belly laughs based on slapstick and over-the-top drama, but the writers give them next to nothing to work with in terms of material, and the result is a lot of tepid humor ("How are we going to re-populate the Earth? Everyone's either a dude or our sister!"...yawn), and a lot of blank stares from my little brother and the majority of kids in the audience.
Crash and Eddie notwithstanding, the film hits about as often as it misses with its attempts to create guffaws. Wildly successful were scenes involving Sid as the "Fire God", Queen Latifah's mammoth suffering from species identity confusion, and Diego's continuous bouts with Hydrophobia. Less successful were Jay Leno's scenes as Fast Tony and a musical number involving a chorus of vultures ("Food, Glorious Food"...please stop). Admittedly, the antics of Scrat drew raucous laughs from both kids and adults alike in the audience, although I have to believe that people finding this creature even remotely amusing are similarly likely to own a vast collection of Pauly Shore films and a shelf containing VHS recordings of every known episode of "The Jeffersons".
So all, in all...7 out of 10. Not bad, not even a waste of money or time, but your chances of remembering it even a few weeks from the time you view it are about on par with the likelihood that you'll accurately recall the contestant who won May 4th's Showcase Showdown on "The Price is Right"...in an episode that ran in 1982.