Ice Age Carlos Saldanha and Chris Wedge

Ice Age Carlos Saldanha and Chris Wedge
"Ice Age" is the newest movie in the very popular animation style that offers adult-friendly children's stories populated by loveable star-voiced characters who are ready-made for a life beyond the film as Happy Meal toys.

With its lumbering hero, wacky comic sidekick, and plot involving bumbling creatures trying to take care of a human child, the film bears a more than passing resemblance to "Monsters, Inc." – the genre's more recent success – and tends to suffer in comparison. However, while it's not the most original addition to the ever-growing pile, it's not without charm and enjoyable moments either.

Set against the backdrop of the encroaching ice age, the film features three animals who are separated from their respective packs during the massive southern migration uniting to form their own unlikely herd. Manny the Wooly Mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the Sabretooth Tiger (Dennis Leary) are thrown together when they come across a human baby whose mother has died trying to save it and agree (each for his own reason) to track down the baby's father to return it. Manny is the stoic leader of the group, while the manic Sid is there mainly for one-liners and comic relief and Diego's secret agenda provides much of the film's tension.

"Ice Age" is fairly predictable, offering thinly veiled lessons in teamwork and cross-species togetherness while mining the well-worn comedy of the mismatched buddies concept. It's quite a bit slower and darker (given the impending extinction of most of the cast of characters) than similar films, which might impede children's enjoyment of the piece. There are, however, enough movie spoofs and extinction jokes to keep the adult viewers engaged while offering a fairly fun and wholesome adventure story for the kids .The animation also looks quite good, managing to inject a great deal of interesting aspects into the frozen landscape. Periphery scenes involving a small rodent desperately trying to bury an acorn in the tundra are particularly well done, as is a sequence in which cave drawings come to life to reveal Manny's troubled past.