The first "Ice Age" movie had a decent storyline and some likable characters. The computer-generated prehistoric critters have returned for another round, but the new tale progresses like a wounded mammoth. There are some charming moments, but you have to wait for them.Actually, the most entertaining moments come from Scrat, the saber-tooth squirrel and his futile attempts to snag a tasty acorn.
Reminiscent of the old Coyote and Road-Runner cartoons, the segments come up with intriguing variations on the same simple comic setup. A 30-minute compilation of the squirrel’s antics might actually be more engaging.
The rest of movie should appeal to kids but needs a little more wit and imagination to keep an adult’s attention. Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano) and Diego (Denis Leary) the saber-tooth tiger find their peaceful coexistence shattered when they discover that the ice that has covered their valley for as long as they can remember is melting and threatening to put everything underwater.
The three make a hasty exodus and are soon joined by a pair of rambunctious possums (Seann William Scott, Josh Peck) and a mammoth named Ellie (Queen Latifah) who doesn’t grasp that she’s really not a possum.
Manny hasn’t seen another mammoth in years, so every other creature in the melting valley is urging him to woo her. Of course, the two don’t think much of each other (June thinks Manny is pushy, and Manny thinks she’s crazy) and have to prove to themselves that they are really in love.
If this conclusion didn’t seem obvious to you, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” won’t seem tired or unimaginative. The script by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow has some cute moments. Watching Ellie hang from trees unaware of her size is good for a laugh the first time she does it. The joke doesn’t improve with repetition.
The chemistry with the three leads suffers a bit this time. When Diego wavered over whether he should stay a predator in the first movie, the story had some tension that’s missing here. Adding some mild gags involving bodily functions doesn’t compensate.As sequels go, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” gets credit for being almost as engaging as the film that preceded it, but considering its $80 million budget, it’s not unreasonable to expect a better story to go with those snazzy computer visuals.