Ice Age: Continental Drift

Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 01:00

Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier. Voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Keke Palmer G cert, general release, 92 min

TO USE an appropriate analogy, one may as well argue against the retreating ice sheets or shifts in the earth’s crust.

You probably think of the Ice Age franchise as just one of many ho-hum, indifferently animated potboiler franchises. Well, it is that. But the films have, to the bafflement of most observers, developed into cash machines of staggering efficiency.

Get this. Thanks largely to ticket sales outside the US, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the last instalment, registered as the third biggest picture of 2009, after Avatar and a Harry Potter). What’s going on?

The latest picture, like all the others, passes the time amiably enough in the manner of a mid-budget Saturday morning cartoon. As usual, we begin with the best bit – adventures with Scrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel – before moving on to meet various wearyingly suburban mammoths and annoyingly grumpy tigers.

Pious as well as unimaginative, Continental Drift sets out to teach kids lessons about not trying too hard to get in with the cool crowd. A young mammoth hangs out at the falls (the rhyme with “mall” seems tediously intentional) and is persuaded to desert old pals as she seeks acceptance from smart-talking tearaways. Yeah, all right.

The films are, however, genuinely remarkable in one regard. They show a disdain for science that would seem out of place at the Kentucky Board of Education’s hearings on the teaching of Creationism.

The new film suggests that, rather than occurring over millennia, significant continental drift can assert itself in one hectic afternoon. With a crash and a screech, Pangaea tears itself into bits and America races madly away from Europe.

Pardon? Suddenly Roland Emmerich’s 2012 seems like a sober documentary.