Ice Age: The Meltdown
How nice it is to see the whole Ice Age gang back, joking around and trying to outrun the impending Meltdown. But unfortunately, this sequel falls under the "cute-but-not-quite-as-good-as-the-original" category.
Picking up pretty much where we left off, Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the Saber Tooth Tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) are still palling around together. Goofy Sid feels a little under appreciated, sardonic Diego is deathly afraid of water and sad-eyed Manny is still kinda lonely. In fact, Manny thinks he may be the last of his species, until he meets Ellie (Queen Latifah), a Mammoth who thinks she's a possum. Don't ask. Oh, there's also Ellie's possum buddies, Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck), two scrappy fellows up to no good. The more pressing issue, however, is the fact the polar ice caps are melting and they've got to get to high ground before they become fish food (and they are some nasty prehistoric fish, too). Thank god for Scrat (Chris Wedge). He's still chasing the elusive nut--and actually ends up saving the day, in more ways than one.
How does one become a woolly Mammoth, a cockeyed Sloth or a sleek Saber-tooth Tiger? What's the motivation? For Romano, Leguizamo and Leary, it's easy. They just tap into their own inner prehistoric animal because, you know, we all have one. Actually, it amazes me how any chemistry can be developed between the actors voicing animated characters since they don't record at the same time. Toy Story's Tom Hanks and Tim Allen ranks as one of the best, but these three definitely have it as well; maybe they should think about making a live-action movie together. Queen Latifah also holds her own with the boys, while Scott and Peck come off just a wee bit annoying as the mischievous possums. But it's Chris Wedge's squeaks, grunts and sighs as our favorite antediluvian squirrel Scrat that makes the film--and the desperate little fellow happily gets more air play this time around.
Ice Age: The Meltdown suffers from animated sequel-itis--a condition in which a film can't live up to the certain heartwarming charm the original provided. As funny and delightful as they can be, the characters just aren't fresh and new. A remedy would be to have a better story than the original, i.e. Toy Story 2 (still one of the best sequels ever), but Meltdown takes a step backwards, relying more on the familiarity of the characters than a cohesive plot. There are definitely highlights: the visuals are crisp and clean and there are few entertaining musical numbers thrown in for our enjoyment, including one in which Sid is being idolized by a tribe of miniature sloths and another in which a flock of vultures sing the Oliver! tune "Food, glorious food!" while waiting for the movable feast to perish. But overall, even though the kids will certainly get a kick out of Meltdown--especially Scrat's nutty antics--the sequel isn't quite up to snuff.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.