Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) / Animation-Comedy

MPAA Rated: PG for mild rude humor and some action/peril
Running Time: 94 min.

Cast (voices): Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Lopez, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jessie J, Keke Palmer, Adam DeVine, Wanda Sykes, Melissa Rauch, Michael Strahan, Nick Offerman
Director: Michael Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu
Screenplay: Michael J. Wilson, Michael Berg, Yoni Brenner

Review published July 26, 2016

I watched Ice Age: Collision course with my fiancée and her 4 1/2-year-old daughter, who asked us about a half-hour into the film, "When is the movie gonna start?"  Funny that I couldn't answer that question, despite it obviously running for some time, as there really hadn't been any trace of the main plot to come a full one-third into the run-time of the movie.

Ice Age: Collision Course represents the fifth film in the highly lucrative franchise, which, after the last two films in the series grossed nearly $900 million worldwide apiece, assures there will be one more go-round.  Only modest hits in the United States, the Ice Age films have enjoyed ravenous success in many foreign markets, as the mix of colorful characters and heaping helpings of silly slapstick cross language barriers that stymie many other Hollywood animated features that rely on a great deal of pop culture references and in-jokes galore.

What this means, of course, is that Collision Course is virtually critic proof, as those who already prone to enjoy the series will already know what they're going to get, for better or worse.   It's a formula film through and through, so after four whole epic entries, Blue Sky Animation, the makers of this fifth, can rest assured, knowing that there is likely going to be plenty of people flocking to see more of these goofy animated animals in silly slap-happy situations, giving the kiddos plenty of giggles with oodles of gross juvenile humor and lots of crazy cartoon mayhem.

In this film, the antics of Scrat the squirrel flying a UFO in outer space, chasing the elusive acorn, ends up inadvertently causing a massive meteor shower to hit Earth.  Manny the wooly mammoth (Romano, Eulogy) and his wife Ellie (Latifah, Miracles from Heaven) forget, for a moment, their fears that their daughter Peaches (Palmer, Akeelah and the Bee) will end up leaving them once she gets married to the silly-natured but loveable Julian (Devine, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates).  They see the fiery rocks hurtling in their vicinity and immediately run for cover, along with their gang of friends (aka The Herd) of many species, eventually running into the spirited and highly intelligent one-eyed weasel named Buck (returning from the third film, Dawn of the Dinosaurs), who concocts a plan to keep the most massive of asteroids from hitting Earth yet again and wiping them all out.  Teamwork is employed, but they're going to have to stay a step ahead of a trio of ill-mannered Dino-Birds who want all of these other pesky critters like the dino-egg saving Buck (Pegg, Star Trek Beyond) out of the way so they can rule the roost as the most powerful creatures on the newly destroyed planet.

Like the characters at the heart of this film, the producers of the Ice Age films soon realize that there's literally nowhere to go -- we already have squirrels piloting a spacecraft of unknown origin, so the jokes involving prehistoric shenanigans have completely run out after the first couple of films. The best they can do is to keep things always moving, even if it's in circles, and try to live to see another day, which they will do, as long as butts continue to fill theater seats around the world.  

Kids will enjoy this more than most, as there really isn't much meat on the bones for most adults to sink their teeth into.  There are occasional clever moments and a few gags to garner a chuckle, but you're likely to have to actively search for those sparse morsels amid a cavalcade of Scrat getting maimed trying to stash his acorn in outer space, and a tired family sitcom subplot featuring yet another disapproving dad having to learn tolerance for seeing his daughter growing up and not depending on him anymore.

Ten minutes worth of plot is padded out here to 90+ minutes, which means that Collision Course has no choice but to add more and more characters it can to persistently distract us from realizing that there's not much good in these goods to justify another entry.  Parents who are happy to see their kids laugh and have a good time will, at best, be tolerant of this movie, but for those actually looking for a worthwhile way to spend ninety minutes will find that, like the dinosaurs, the original ideas behind this series went extinct a long time ago.

Qwipster's rating:

©2016 Vince Leo