The Night Out: Ice Age: The Meltdown (2009), or Third Time’s The Charm

4 07 2009

Have you ever looked at a child and wondered what he was thinking? No? Me neither, because children are, for the most part, really dumb. It’s not their fault, per se, as their very existence bestows upon them the role of “adult-in-training”. But kids aren’t terribly intelligent. They like bright colors, simple stories, and bodily function humor. Sometimes a little child sarcasm so they can feel intellectually independent, sometimes a little action to keep their puny attention spans at bay. But the formula is really simple. And kids love love love love love love LOVE things that feel spontaneous yet really aren’t, so the formula is toyed with incessantly for maximum kid-tainment, but remains mostly intact.

So when an adult sees a kids movie, he or she can process the amount of times that they have witnessed the exact same formulaic filmmaking with their kids, which unfortunately results in a feeling of ennui and boredom rather than blithe enjoyment. This can lead to a number of different side-effects for adults, including Glaze-Eyes, Restless Torso Syndrome, the Black Shakes, and leprosy. Recently, though, in a stupendous turn of events, kid movies have been coming out that also cater to adults. Movies like Shrek, Monsters Vs. Aliens, and Flushed Away have broken the floodgates recently by making films that adults won’t wither away while watching; they’re family-oriented, but they give throw out a few bones for the adults out there who are chaperoning their children. It’s a trend that has been going gaining steam for quite some time now, and today’s film, Ice Age: The Meltdown, is coming in on the most recent batch of tolerable family flicks, and it has learned quite a few things from its forebears. It’s fast, it’s playful, and it’s fun for everyone, even boring old Mom and Pop. What it didn’t learn from it’s forebears is how to be consistently funny.

During the movie, there were certain moments that really got me, and I reveled in their childish-yet-adultish hilarity. But it’s when Ice Age moves into platitudes and stale gender relations dialog I started to turn off. If you’re familiar with the Ice Age franchise (or as I like to call it, Everybody Loves Raymond B.C.), it’s about the central character of Manny the Mammoth and his antics with his prehistoric friends, including Sid the sloth, Diego the saber tooth tiger, and Dexter the Archaeoptryx (that last one is made up; I’m sorry) as they get in and out of adventures while at the same time dealing with the delightful life of being adults.

And that’s fine. I like the adult/parent banter of the celebrity-voiced Ice Age players. But it’s when all this stuff starts to turn into what I see as adult relationship stereotypes being passed off as genuine and true. The relationship between Manny and his wife, for instance, is trite and stereotypical. Manny’s wife Ellie is a haughty, holier-than-thou, eye-rolling example of an overbearing bitch. And the humor we’re supposed to gleam out of that is (like Everybody Loves Raymond) that Manny is a fuck-up, and Ellie likes to roll her eyes at his idiocy a lot. HILARIOUS! And Sid is a fuck-up, so everyone likes to roll their eyes at him too. GENIUS! Now that we’ve looked down on most of the cast, what’s next?

But I kid Ice Age. Despite it’s disgust for people not as smart as it, it can keep me interested. The characters are engaging, besides their stupidity, the animation is smooth and definitely a notch above the other two (which were admittedly much less memorable than this one), it chugs along at a great pace, and it’s good at heart. I have a respect for this one that I didn’t have for the other ones because this one doesn’t rely on as much character banter and instead actively searches for fun and adventure. It’s great for your kids, but YOU might find that you’re just as strung-along as your tots. It has a little bit of everything, and while I disdain some of the interactions between the animals, overall I don’t think it’s that damaging. You’ll have a lot to see, think about, and discuss later with your kids afterwards, so check it out. Despite my misgivings on some of the sources of hilarity and revelry, I still think when it’s funny, it’s pretty damn funny. I give Ice Age 3 7 1/2 archaeoptryxes out of 10.

Keep an eye out for my Step Brothers review later today! And don’t forget who loves ya!

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