It didn’t take long for me to realize that after a cute intro involving Scrat the sabertoothed squirrel, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was the worst of the Fox animated trilogy. While it still has its cutesy characters — wooly mammoths Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) and Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), sloth Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) and sabretooth tiger Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) — the story is poorly constructed and slow in progressing, the voice talent is uninvigorated and the animation is boring.
This is usually the case when a film is put out to simply siphon some cash out of the pockets of overly eager parents looking to shove their kids out of the house.
This go round, our misfit mammals have their maternal instincts in full tilt. Well at least half of them do; Ellie and Manny are expecting their first born. Sid and Diego feel like third and fourth wheels so they look to leave the herd and their little oasis. Sid, on his identity quest, finds three T-Rex eggs and decides to raise them as his own. Mama T-Rex ain’t so happy about that, so instead of just eating him and taking her offspring back, she kidnaps him and takes him to a hidden, subterranean dinosaur world. With the help of a crazy weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg), the reunited gang heads off together to save Sid.
Like I said, there isn’t much imagination put forth by the screenwriters or directors (Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier). It takes 3/4 of the movie for anything worth noting to occur — that is unless you think watching several minutes of footage showing Sid juggle and slide about with the eggs or listening to our heroes talk with high pitched voices is noteworthy. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs just meanders along like a lazy river until the next set piece. To spruce it up, so the older generation isn’t bored to death, are those “golden nuggets”, you know, the jokes only an adult should understand. Some are good for a chuckle. Most aren’t and nearly all of them are aimed squarely at the homosexual community. Then there are little interludes with Scrat and his new lady love Scratte scattered throughout. I see those two getting their own offshoot show, much like the penguins from Madagascar did.
The voice talent isn’t as good as it should be either. There is no inflection in their voices; it’s nearly as captivating as listening to a book read on cassette. Generally, actors have a fun time doing these kinds of movies, but it doesn’t sound like they’re having much fun here (maybe they didn’t believe in the production either). Ray Romano with his monotone delivery is just not a good choice — for anything. Actually, the only one having a good time with it and doing a good job is Simon Pegg. His character seems to have been given the most chops and he makes the most of it. Literally, if he wasn’t so pronounced in the latter part of the film, none of it would be worth seeing.
None of this matters, though. Kids will swallow Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs up like their favorite ice cream. It doesn’t matter that the colors are washed out and the detailing is no better than what a novice could do with rudimentary skills and equipment. The movie has dinosaurs and talking animals. Sadly, I think that is all that is needed to make a profitable kids movie nowadays. Prove me wrong. Please.