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“Ice Age 4” (and “Simpsons” short) talkback

Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times generally liked it – saying “The dialogue is sometimes too sluggish and definitely too preachy, the ending is a little too sappy, yet somehow this strange collection of prehistoric critters and their completely illogical life are consistently likable, if not quite lovable.”

A.O. Scott in The New York Times also found it watchable: “It may be too much to expect novelty – then again, why shouldn’t we? – but a little more conviction might be nice. “Continental Drift,” like its predecessors, is much too friendly to dislike, and its vision of interspecies multiculturalism is generous and appealing.”

Both critics – and everyone else – agrees that the new Simpsons short, The Longest Daycare is worth the price of admission. I’m stuck at Comic Con and will have to wait until next week to catch up. Help me out – if you’ve seen Ice Age 4 and the Simpson’s short – and only if you’ve really seen them – please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Anthony D.

    Really enjoyed the movie and the Simpsons short that preceded it (was funny/adorable)! I like the new character Louis the Molehog in Ice Age 4 since he looked cute and the story was good. Alot of people don’t like the Ice Age sequels but I do and each one is better than the last and this one proves it too.

  • D

    The movie itself was simply ok. I liked the first 2 Ice Age films but now it feels like the franchise is so set in its approach to story, character and humour that the film simply tries to follow in its predecessors footsteps as opposed to trying something new or breathing fresh air into the franchise.

    I feel that the new characters introduced tilted from decent to bad. Peaches, Ethan, Gutt and his crew were all pretty decent characters, they didn’t bother me much and I quite enjoyed them as I felt that they added something good to the film, I mean Aziz Ansari as a rabbit sidekick how can you resist a character like that. However other backing characters that were introduced (Sids Grandma being the big culprit) were vapid stereotypes, we have seen these types of characters before and done better, in the end they just felt empty and derivative.

    It was good to see the main characters again Manny, Sid, Diego, Scrat but is it just me or does it seem as though their characters are wearing just a bit thin. Like I said the franchise is set in its ways as a result we can predict how the main characters are going to act, what they are going to do, we can even predict how the story will end and what jokes will be told after about 10-20 minutes in.

    The animation was decent, it certainly is not a work of Pixar but then again Ice Age has never been. I feel that the character animation is slightly better than past instalments but overall very little improvement, at times I find it hard to believe that the first Ice Age was made ten years ago and yet so little has changed in how the films are animated.

    I think this will be one for the kiddies, especially if they are familiar with the other films in the franchise, I believe that the slew of new characters (good and bad) and the PG approach to family oriented humour will have kids loving this film, I myself and other older animation fans will probably see that the franchise is on thin ice so to speak.

    On a side note The Simpsons short was pretty awesome. The animation of the short was sharp and I loved the colour palette. I almost found it kind of sad really that a 4 minute short looked better and played out better than the entire Ice Age 4 film. Also I loved that they chose maggie as the sole focus of the short it really led to some great humour and proved that cartoon characters don’t need to be blabbermouths to be funny or exude personality, some of the writers of Ice Age 4 could take note.

  • I agree: the Simpsons short was worth the price of entry! While Ice Age 4 may not rank in the top 10 animated films of all time, it won me over. I went in with low expectations, ended up thoroughly enjoying myself, and left feeling happy that I’d seen it. The obvious attempts to keep characters relevant to youth culture–even down to the hairstyle on the young girl mammoth–made me cringe a little bit, although this is nowhere near the level of a Shrek movie, for example. I also didn’t like the over-animated camera movement, which I found distracted me from the actual character action. Overall, however, Blue Sky has produced another solid animated movie that I and my son were able to enjoy together, and I would recommend it.

  • I don’t know if those critics were paid for their “services” or not.

    But Ice Age 4 was a huge let down for me. Pacing was too fast, to where the comedy punchlines were not saved or kept alive through out the action. Cutting from one scene to the next very quickly. No time to take a breather for most of the film.

    The animation for the film is very top notch for the Ice Age series and for Blue Sky studios. I just wished that the writing and pacing could’ve matched up with the strength of animation. Some of the new characters were really annoying, or they were too minimal to be remembered much. Most of them you don’t even know if they had names or not (the pirates for example). They really could’ve done a better job with this film like the predecessors, I just don’t understand why they didn’t when they could have.

    As for Maggie’s short, it was a nice treat to watch. I didn’t watch it in 3D, and I regret that I did. However, if you plan to just want to see the short and have no desire of watching Ice Age 4, you’re wasting money. I wouldn’t say going to see that alone should be the only reason to pay the admission fee.

  • Skye

    I think it’s one of the better Ice Age films, but it’s missing a real center and never really reaches it’s emotional peak. Also, the way the conflicts are depicted are… well, could have been more original. But it’s funny and nice, the animation is great, an the characters are cool. I love Louis, he’s so cute! If there shall be another film, I hope he an Peaches get together.

  • A.O. Scott really did not like the film. The quote Jerry pulled was the kindest thing he had to say about the movie. From what I can see the movie has bad reviews across the board.

    The animation has improved over the years (at least there are no characters popping from pose to pose as is done at other studios.) However, the script just ain’t good. The jokes are verbal; they’re not funny, badly read and poorly timed. Why has animation suddenly discovered Pirates? The rest of society seems to have left them back in the last century.

    Oh, well. You go with the flow. The film will make half a billion dollars for Fox.

    • Dutchie

      “The rest of society seems to have left them back in the last century.”

      Huh? Pirates of the Carribean?

      Ice Age 4 has been out here for a couple of weeks. Didn’t care much for it, but it wasn’t worse than 2 & 3. Why do they insist on keeping expanding an already huge cast?

      The Maggie short was better, but animation-wise felt like it had to be rushed through production. I agree with Roberto that it was pretty stiff like the show, which is a shame with Silverman directing.

  • I thought The Simpsons short was quite nice and I liked that it was a silent film. I thought they couldn’t resist to include Homer or Bart there to tell a joke through dialogue, but not, they weren’t and Marge didn’t say a thing. The short managed to be apt for kids while at the same time feel Simpsonic. The 3D was really cool, I enjoyed it more than I did in the movie. My only cavea would be that I would like the animation to be a little more like the old classic Simpsons, this was well done-and Maggie offers an Award Winning performance in the climax of the short- but it still looks a little more stiff and less “cartoony” than seasons 1 to 6 in the series. I wouldn’t mind if they do more of these shorts with Maggie or other characters (What about an actual Itchy and Scratchy short? They kind of did it in the movie but still).

    Ice Age 4 was…entertaining. It wasn’t very interesting in terms of story, and I’ve never been a huge fan of the main characters, minus Scrat, though for some reason I think Sid’s lines are a little funnier in the last installments (3 and 4) while in the first movie I remember hating the character and not laughing at any of his jokes. Sid’s grandma may be stereotypical, but I enjoyed her. In fact I thought she was pretty funny and a good addition.

    I didn’t like the teenager thing with Peach and the other mamuts too much, but it was short. Overall it seemed like it tried to include some sort of message about parenting and stuff, but it was really half-baked. Which I kinda prefer, cause that way it didn’t get too preachy and it was all about the action and the humor.

    There are a lot of characters in these movies and most of them are just “there”. It kinda makes the movie entertaining cause they keep changing the focus and there is some variety. Also I prefer characters that are just “there” to those that try too hard to be funny (Madagascar has a lot of those ones). But I feel some of them have more potential and are relegated to their roles. Crash and Eddie could be funnier and play a role closer to The Goofy Gophers in Looney Tunes, but they usually don’t have a place in the story and are too confined to their comic relief role. Only the third movie used them a little better. Louis was a likeable character, but they could have made him more special.

    Scrat continues to be the only character that is really defined, and for the most part his jokes work, some of them are really very clever and show a creativity the rest of the movie lacks, even though we have already seen some of his scenes in the shorts this time around.

    Overall I think the pacing and jokes in Ice Age 3 and 4 have been more entertaining and funny in general, but the only one that had a plot (not a revolutionary or even great one, but a decently explained plot) was the first one.

    My conclusion is that it’s a decent saga for kids, cause a lot of the individual scenes are entertaining, but the movies lack cohesive stories and that makes them very forgettable. You enjoy it while you are watching it, but don’t remember anything except Scrat and a couple of other jokes when you leave the theaters.

  • Tredlow

    I liked the animation of Ice Age 4, which was fun and enjoyable as always, and is a good distraction to the very cliched plot. Definitely watch this for the short, with the movie as an added bonus.

  • MissConception

    My movie experience ran the gamut of very bad storytelling to very good storytelling. I went to an independent drafthouse theatre that played cartoons before the movie began, all having a similar theme of dinosaurs and/or snow. We were treated to “Donald’s Snow Fight”, a Pink Panther short, and the incredibly creepy “Mountains of Dinosaurs.” On top of this was the Maggie Simpson short and Ice Age 4.

    I quickly realized the best animation and storytelling came from the oldest animation in the bunch, the 1942 classic Disney short. In second place was “The Longest Daycare” (congrats to the Simpsons crew.) Sad to say that both of those had more satisfying stories than Ice Age 4.

    Far too many new characters. The overall story could have easily been simplified had they axed a few of them, including Diego’s love interest and Sid’s grandmother. Peaches’ story and character arch was highly predictable and really did not dig any further into our understanding of the teenage mind. In fact, the entire story might have been a little more interesting had they aged her down to be more of a child, giving Manny even more anxiety over returning to his wife and small daughter. Ellie could have had more of a conflict in trying to protect Peaches as well.

    Personally, I yearn for the Manny and Diego I knew in the very first film, two characters with serious internal struggles and hardships endured. It just seems like both of them lost their edge over the run of these films.

    I would not have minded if the series had ended on the third movie. This fourth one was a disappointment. If they do another one, I hope they take the story a little more seriously and let this franchise end on a good note.

  • Yeah, Diego’s love interest was really badly used and not explored at all.

    While I think there are too many characters too, I must say that using some new ones and not including some of the ones we saw in Ice Age 3 gives a little variety and difference to the sequel. Buck and Scratte both had pretty clever cameos, but that was all. And it was good cause it would have felt forced if they had included them in bigger roles (Buck should be confined in the subterranean world and including Scratte again would have made Scrat’s scenes more reiterative).

  • Jeff Kurtti

    “Stuck” at Comic Con? Your readers share your grief and admire your sacrifice ;-)

  • KyleB

    The film had marvelously fun animation, but the main story was just passable. I still found it very entertaining to watch however and its probably my favorite of the ice age sequels. My main problem was Peaches’ story. We all rag about cliche plots, but wow I don’t think I’ve seen a “Teen tries to impress the popular kids” plot this rote and bland since sitcoms in the 90s. I’m glad it got very minimal screentime.
    I feel like overall, even if its not at the top of the class when it comes to its joke delivery and story telling the film is still worth a watch. And of course you get to see the fantastic Maggie short to boot!

  • GordonBlu

    I went to the movie today after having read the above comments, so I had mixed expectations. Loved the Simpsons short. Absolutely hated the main feature; this was the worst animated movie I’ve seen the ghastly theme-park ride that was A Christmas Carol.

    First, the movie had zero internal consistency. I can accept nearly anything as the premise of a story, as long as the story then follows logically from that premise. Here things just happened — and then changed — about every 5 minutes, at the whim of the almost non-existant plot.

    Second, that plot: yech!! We start by rearranging the continents in the opening Scrat segment, which was actually the high point of the movie. This was basically a repeat of the second film in the franchise, only carried to ridiculous extremes, and works in the crazy, road-runner logic of the Scrat segments, but not so much in the “serious” part of the plot. Yet that was the main plot driver of the film: the landscape rearranging every 5 minutes, but only when it was convenient for the plot. We also have ice floes (bearing rocks and trees!) violating every law of physics, other ice floes as pirate ships (without sails), and (dare I say it) a cartoon villain of the pirate captain. In the first 3 films, the bad guys were mostly predators (saber-tooths, dinosaurs) naturally seeking prey. This ape was an offensive caricature of every movie bad guy ever created who is just bad because the good guys are just good. Evil? Check. Ugly? Check. Raving lunatic? Check. Obssessed with revenge? Check. No other reason for existing? Check.

    Finally, the filmmakers cheated more than usual here, by messing with the sense of scale. All the mammoths here were distinctly *smaller* in this movie than the previous ones. The only reason for this I can think of was to make them close to the same size as the pirate ape, to make battles between them even halfway credible.

    Finally finally (OK, I lied) , the subplot between Manny and Peaches, regarding overprotective parenting and teens being ready to stand on their own, was trite, predictable, and basically thrown away. The mindless pirate story took up almost all the screen time, leaving nothing left for anything even vaguely resembling character interaction.

    I should note that we saw it mid-afternoon on Sunday of opening weekend, in 3D, and there were maybe a dozen people in the theater, including the three of us.

    Avoid at all costs!

  • Josh

    I like the Simpson short, very cute but I’d be lying if I said I cared for Ice Age 4.
    The production quality has picked up since 2002 but the laughs are pretty weak and all too often over explained to the audience.

    Plus what was up with that dialogue for the teenager characters? It sounds like how middle animators think teenagers talk because they’ve never left their studio desks. All the guy teenagers were saying “Woah dude, gnarly!” and the girls talked sassy and ghetto. I was wincing in my seat during those parts!

  • Jow

    Shortest Review Ever.

    -The Longest Daycare: Great!

    -Ice Age 4: Just As “Great!” as The Longest Daycare!

  • Geoff

    The longest Daycare was great. And I’m very pleased to see more movies put a cartoon short before the feature (a trend Pixar restarted over a decade ago that’s sowly catching on).
    Ice Age 4 was on par with the other IA films – in other words, lackluster. Even one 5 year old twins were bored. Also, I think we can all agree IA’s continuity has never been a strong point. Why haven’t there been human’s since the first?
    Scrat, as always, was the highlight. I’m tempted, and simultaneously fear, to say a whole Scrat movie would be great to have.

  • Si

    I popped in to see Ice Age over the weekend in Camden, had a few hours to kill and there was nothing else on the bill that i was outrageously keen to see. Definitely seemed like a decent way to spend two hours. The visual treatment was well handled as far as i could see, and the storyline raised a few laughs from the kids in the audience. Perhaps not as emotive as some of the other work that the folks involved have done with their previous releases but still. It certainly seems to represent a heck of a lot of work on the part of production. I found the Mammoth family a bit overbearing in this particular release, with the whole family vibe going on, and the teenager / parents routine didn’t seem to sit well with familygoers in the audience; maybe a bit too condescending? i don’t know. but besides which, must say i loved the introduction of a love interest for Diego, and Sid’s Grammy was also perhaps a bit stereotyped but alas, too close to my own Gramma for me to criticise =)

  • Ian Failes

    Thought they did a killer job on the look of the film. Article on the water sims and skies here: