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Ice Age: Collision Course

(2016) * Pg
94 min. 20th Century Fox. Directors: Galen T. Chu, Mike Thurmeier. Cast: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Adam Devine, Wanda Sykes, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nick Offerman.

/content/films/4937/1.jpgYou’ve heard of the proverbial cash cow, of course, but for Twentieth Century Fox and computer-animation outfit Blue Sky Studios, it’s all about the cash mammoth. I refer, of course, to Ice Age, the only animated franchise to achieve five feature films, four short films, two television specials, nine video games, and a touring live ice show. But the Paleolithic-ice-age-set franchise has long looked long in the tusk, and never more so than in Ice Age: Collision Course.

The Wikipedia page for the Ice Age movies notes that they have “received some criticism for making no attempt to be scientifically accurate.” That understatement gets scarily addressed in Collision Course, which opens with a narration by America’s ambassador of science, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson later appears as an animated sciencesplaining weasel in the mind of another, mentally disturbed weasel. I point this out only to note the irony that Tyson has blessed with his presence perhaps THE MOST SCIENTIFICALLY INACCURATE FILM EVER MADE, as if to say, “Lighten up, America! We all need a payday sometimes.”

Anyway, in this one, woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano) and wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) anticipate with trepidation the wedding of daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) to the enthusiastic Julian (Adam Devine). This subplot we’ll call Father of the Bride, with Manny getting wistful about letting Peaches go and misdirecting his frustration onto Julian. These concerns are trivial in light of the main plot, which finds saber-toothed squirrel Scrat (Chris Wedge) inadvertently releasing a flying saucer from a glacier and knocking asteroids onto a collision course with Earth. We’ll call this part Deep Impact.

Naturally, the mammoths and their mammalian buddies—including lisping ground sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) and his Granny (Wanda Sykes), saber-toothed tiger couple Diego and Shira (Denis Leary and Jennifer Lopez), and opossums Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck)—take direction from lunatic weasel Buck (Simon Pegg) to SAVE THE WORLD by DIVERTING THE PATH OF AN ASTEROID (emphasis mine) while making lots of comically anachronistic wisecracks (“Hashtag I’m starting to get sick of it.” Amen). And I haven’t mentioned the Shangri-Llama (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) or the unicorns. It’s fair to say, then, that Ice Age: Collision Course is a movie designed to drive the literal-minded bonkers. But it’s okay. Because Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But, you say, “Lighten up, film critic! It’s for kids. Will kids like it?” Yes, it’s possible that the least discriminating segment of the moviegoing audience will enjoy this movie. Numerous butt and poop jokes are guaranteed to make the wee ones giggle. For what it’s worth, though, long stretches of the movie at my preview screening prompted restless whining. Granted, that was mostly from me, but also from many of the children. Luckily, to memory-wipe the preceding 94 minutes of nonsense, the film ends with that hoariest of animated-movie clichés: the old pop-rock song-and-dance.

I’ll say this for the movie: it includes two lines, in rapid succession, that evince a smidgen of self-awareness. Manny says, “There’s a bunny living in the asteroid? I did not see that coming,” adding, “Did I hit my head? What’s happening here?” Yes, Ice Age: Collision Course will make you feel like a six-year-old again. Because you will have NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON.

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