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Movie Review

Rising temperatures, drifting continents, raging dinosaurs … it's always something in the prehistoric realm of the Ice Age franchise. Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger rarely have time to breathe between cataclysmic catastrophes. And when they do get a minute or three of downtime, well, even then there are issues to be dealt with.

So it is again at the outset of the fifth Ice Age movie, Collision Course. Manny's having a hard time embracing the idea of his daughter, Peaches, getting married to an eager-to-please young mammoth named Julian (who insists on calling him "Bro Dad" with an annoying surfer accent). Meanwhile, Sid's wallowing in romantic failure, longing for a sloth to call his own. "All I want is true love," he laments after his latest would-be flame decides to call it quits. "Is that too much to ask?" And Diego is right there offering counsel (and sarcastic commentary) to his friends as they commiserate over drinks at the local watering hole (literally).

That's about the time shooting stars begin lighting up the sky. They're pretty at first. Then more ominous. Especially the really big one out in the distance that acorn-chasing Scrat manages to aim right at Earth. (The accident-prone, nut-obsessed rodent finds his way into a UFO frozen in ice, launches it, and wreaks interplanetary havoc pursuing his precious acorn all over the solar system.)

The blazing hunk of space rock sets off a mad mammal scramble to avoid yet another potential extinction-level event. To evade that horrific outcome, Manny and Co. are going to need the help of their old friend Buck, the one-eyed weasel who's surprisingly adept at brainstorming alternatives to apocalypse.

That is, of course, if Buck can keep himself and his friends from being eaten by the three flying dinosaurs chasing them—short-sighted carnivores who don't care if world goes down in flames.

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Positive Elements

Heroism, bravery, problem-solving and optimism abound in Ice Age: Collision Course. The Herd (as Manny's motley tribe of animal friends is known) pulls together once again to avert a global apocalypse. Buck's intrepid sleuthing (he finds an ancient hieroglyphic monolith) is key to helping the group realize that Earth has been pulverized by space rocks before and to avoiding a repetition of that event.

Collision Course pairs that over-the-top, Armageddon-inspired plot with a sensitive, romcom-style subplot involving Manny coming to terms with Peaches' impending nuptials. Peaches and Julian dream of tying the mammoth knot and striking out on their own. Overprotective, hypercritical Manny isn't convinced that Julian can keep his daughter safe, and he initially tries to convince the almost-married couple to stick close to the protective shelter of the Herd.

In the end, Manny and his wife, Ellie, realize they've got to let their daughter and her (almost) new husband make their own choices, while the young couple gradually sees Manny and Ellie's overprotectiveness as an expression of real love, not simply a desire to control their lives. The film illustrates how tricky it can be for parents to strike the right balance between giving wise guidance to adult children and giving them the appropriate space to make independent decisions. Conversations along the way also strongly affirm the value and goodness of marriage and children.

As they think they're about to die, Manny and Ellie reflect on raising Peaches. "We did a good job with her," Ellie says. Manny agrees, adding, "It was a good one, our life." Likewise, perpetually positive Julian tries to cheer Peaches up on the brink of apocalypse, prompting her to say, "Only you could make the end of the world sound like a good thing."

Spiritual Content

The film's opening scene ponders the origins of life, with a voiceover saying, "Since the beginning of time, we have wondered how the universe came to be. A glorious orchestrated plan? A chance series of events? Or something much, much … dumber?" The film then humorously depicts Scrat's ridiculously dogged pursuit of an acorn (in that aforementioned UFO) as the catalyst for solar system's origin and for the creation of the asteroid that now threatens to destroy the planet. (Don't overthink that cosmic creation timeline, because it doesn't make any sense.)

Buck finds a stone monolith inscribed, he says, with "a prophecy" that depicts the pummeling of Earth by asteroids every 100 million years or so. Despite the grim nature of the prophecy, he says that some dinosaurs somehow escaped complete obliteration the last time, adding, "They changed their fate, and we can change ours, too."

A Matrix-meets-Jurassic Park scientific explanation of previous asteroid impacts involves Buck playing the roles of Neil deBuck Weasel (voiced by the famously agnostic scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson) and Pythagoras Buck. That scene includes a depiction of the moon being flung past the earth, which pulled the waves of a lake upward, à la Moses' parting of the Red Sea. An animal onshore intones, Moses-style, "Let my mammals pass!" That scene also references "tablets of ancient wisdom."

Sid's cantankerous sloth forbear Granny is kidnapped by flying dinos. As she's flying through the air and uncertain of what's happened, she exclaims, "Is it my time, angel? I'm coming to the light! Can't wait to see all those dead relatives." Sid says he can still hear her "sweet shrill voice shrieking to the afterlife." Elsewhere, Buck says, "Somebody up there likes us," followed by, "Somebody up there doesn't like us." A sloth named Brooke says, "I guess the universe was smiling on us."

Someone says of a new character named Shangri Llama, "He is our everything. He sees all. He knows all. He smells amazing." None of those claims, it turns out, is actually true. When Shangri Llama spits (which he does frequently), there's always an animal present to catch his supposedly sacred saliva.

Someone shouts, "How the devil … "

Sexual Content

Glowing fragments of asteroid end up strategically placed on Sid's chest, like burning nipples. A male character briefly wears female clothes (in a scene played for humor), and someone else says he's "looking fabulous." Crash and Eddy model garter belts. A dinosaur says of the low temperature's effects on his anatomy, "Parts are retracting into other parts."

Sid and Brooke have a blossoming romantic relationship, with the latter asking, "Will you be my mate for life?" Granny becomes infatuated with a bunny named Teddy. When a crystal turns back the clock on a bunch of aging animals, Granny exclaims, "Hot tubbin' just got a whole lot more interesting" as the opening notes of Marvin Gaye's sensual and suggestive hit "Let's Get It On" play in the background. Elsewhere, Teddy announces, "Tomorrow, naked bingo," then asks, "You coming, Granny? I ain't gettin' any younger."

Violent Content

As has been the case in all of these films, an impending apocalyptic event combines momentary peril with all manner of pratfall animal humor. This time around, it involves smaller fragments of the main asteroid impacting the Earth first.

The hurtling space rocks spark explosions and fires, and the Herd repeatedly flees to stay out asteroid fragments' way. When characters fail to dodge, they're sometimes temporarily set alight and/or propelled into the air. Characters get shocked and electrocuted, but are never really the worse for the fiery/ electrical wear and tear. One exception: a flock of birds seen in the distance gets vapored (which is played for laughs).

Three airborne dino-baddies follow Buck out of his subterranean lair, hunting him and the Herd for much of the movie. They nab Granny at one point—even eating her, before she gets "Heimliched" out—and they repeatedly menace other characters, too.

Scrat, of course, has ridiculously violent interactions with all manner of stuff in his UFO and in space, getting stretched, squished, bonked, twisted and generally abused to within an inch of his animated rodent life. It doesn't always go well for the poor planets he smashes into, either.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear single uses of the British exclamations "blimey" and "crikey," as well as "nincompoop," "funsucker," and "sucking." Someone says, "Stupid mammals."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Manny, Sid and Diego enjoy a beverage at a bar-like establishment next to a lake where other animals are lapping up water.

Other Negative Elements

Bathroom humor (jokes about butts, "duty," "poopy," flatulence, etc.) is sprinkled through the film, especially infesting the silly slapstick shenanigans of Crash and Eddy (the franchise's go-to pair of comic-relief possums). Sid scratches his backside and sniffs it. Elsewhere, he gets all tangled up and says, "My nose is dangerously close to my butt." Buck runs a leaf between his legs. Scrat has close anatomical encounters with his beloved acorn as it impacts his crotch and backside.

Conclusion

When Hollywood execs find a formula that works, they will keep coming back to the well until it goes completely dry. That's true with horror franchises that refuse to die, and animated ones as well.

Ice Age: Collision Course belongs in the latter category. But after 14 years and five movies, this series is starting to feel a tad long in the sabre-tooth. One can almost sense the filmmakers running out of steam as they crib ever more frantically from other successful franchises. You practically have to have a score card to keep up with the homages and replicated scenes in this animated Armageddon-meets-Father-of-the-Bride mashup. We get obvious nods to The Matrix and Jurassic Park, Young Frankenstein and 2001, Star Wars and Star Trek. (Along the way, some sensual '70s soul and a nod to a scene from Dirty Dancing get added to the mix as well, jokes parents will get that will sail right over younger viewers' heads.)

In today's fiercely competitive animated environment, one filled with so much creativity and originality, the latest Ice Age entry feels a little bit like a dinosaur.

That said, young fans of the franchise probably won't care that the film is running on the fumes of its Paleogenious petrol. They'll be giggling at Scrat's antics and at lisping Sid's predictable pratfalls. (Poor Sid.) They'll guffaw at the flick's half a dozen or so butt/poop/flatulence jokes. They'll slap their knees when Sid gets torched and ends up with two glowing coals where his nipples should be. (Poor Sid.)

They may or may not notice the film's surprisingly frequent spiritual nods. Like Scrat pinballing between the planets, these winks at conflicting worldviews veer erratically between allusions to the God and heaven one moment to joking suggestions that it's all just a great big cosmic joke the next.

What they may notice, however, and what mostly redeems this film from the being just another animated movie with too many butt jokes, is its positive emphasis on family. Getting married, working through marital conflict, loving your children well and learning to let them go are all important themes here.

Ice Age: Collision Course may be showing the series' prehistoric age, but in some important ways it also emphasizes traditional ideas about marriage and family that mainstream culture is increasingly rejecting these days.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Voices of Ray Romano as Manny; John Leguizamo as Sid; Denis Leary as Diego; Queen Latifah as Ellie; Jennifer Lopez as Shira; Simon Pegg as Buck; Keke Palmer as Peaches; Adam DeVine as Julian; Sean William Scott as Crash; Josh Peck as Eddie; Wanda Sykes as Granny; Chris Wedge as Scrat; Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Shangri Llama; Jessie J as Brooke; Nick Offerman as Gavin; Stephanie Beatriz as Gertie; Max Greenfield as Roger; Michael Strahan as Teddy; Melissa Rauch as Francine; Neil deGrasse Tyson as Neil deBuck Weasel

Director

Mike Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu ( )

Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

July 22, 2016

On Video

October 11, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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