It's always hard to review a movie designed to tickle the funny bone of the young child/pre-teen crowd. What they find funny and what I find funny could be entirely different.
Fortunately for all parties involved, the Ice Age series of animated films have provided laughs for all ages.
Just to be certain, I took my nine-year-old and seven-year-old along on this review and both gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. (Break a dad's heart - using Siskel and Ebert's review symbols rather than my popcorn bucket method).
Life is good for the Ice Age group - for the most part. The herd is enjoying life, led by Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), a woolly mammoth, the group has a comfortable home, complete with food, water and beautiful scenery. Manny is married to Ellie (Queen Latifah) and the couple have a teen daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), who like most teen daughters, causes her father worry and torment. She longs to unloose her binds and roam wild with the other teen mammoths.
Sid (John Leguizamo), the lisping, dopey sloth, who is too lovable to hate though he drives everyone nuts, has a brief reunion with his family, and becomes the babysitter of his toothless, equally clueless and somewhat senile grandmother (Wanda Sykes stealing the show). Diego (Dennis Leary), the saber-toothed tiger, is dragged into the picture, courtesy of Sid's family, and the group comes together in time for a world-changing event.
Credit prehistoric rat Scrat (gibberish provided by Chris Wedge) and his never-ending pursuit of the eternal nut for starting the division of the continents. His hi-jinx forces ice shelves to collapse, the earth to split and the foursome of Manny, Sid, Diego and granny to get cut off and cast out to sea on a small chunk of ice. Vowing to get back to his family, Manny begins a quest to somehow get back to the "continent."
Standing in the way, a group of pirates, led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage of "Game of Thrones" fame), a prehistoric ape, who considers himself the ruler of the high seas. When he attempts to take over Manny's "ship," he seeks to add the useful mammoth to his team of pillagers. When Manny isn't interested in anything but returning home and accidentally sinks Gutt's ship - the rest of the movie is played out. Manny is racing to get home and Gutt is seeking his revenge.
Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a female saber-toothed tiger, is Gutt's first mate, who immediately develops a dislike for Diego, but it's pretty clear where this is going. The two reluctantly begin to care for one another, which gets in the way of the whole Manny vs. Gutt encounters.
And Sid, Manny and Diego spend a better part of the movie trying to keep crazy grandma from falling overboard and tossing their food into the sea to her imaginary pet, Precious.
While the humor flows - kids and parents alike laughed out loud in the theater - the story really centers around the importance of friendship and family. Peaches is desperately trying to win the attention of a hot teen mammoth and get in good with their group, all at the expense of her lifelong best friend, Louis (Josh Gad), who winds up being the truest pers.... molehog in her life. The three main characters continue to work together, despite Sid's constant bumbling, in attempt to get Manny back home to his family.
The voice list is impressive. In addition to those already mentioned, Seann William Scott, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Aziz Ansari, Joy Bear, Ally Romano, Patrick Stewart and Simon Pegg all contribute verbal skills to bring the characters to life.
Ten years after the release of the original Ice Age, the storytelling is still pretty good. The kids will enjoy it for certain, and isn't that what it's really all about.