Smart folks have theorized how and why the continents formed (tectonic-plate shifting, molten mantle convection, infighting between Mole People and Morlocks). Apparently, this eons-old rift traces back to an acorn-obsessed squirrel that ran over the Earth’s core repeatedly and, as a result of his frantic nut-junkie shenanigans, broke apart a singular land mass into Asia, Africa et al. In your face, pointy-headed scientists! Shown as a stand-alone short before various Fox kids’ features over the past year or so, this explanatory prologue featuring Scrat, Ice Age’s prehistoric Wile E. Coyote, is an ingenious little toon that brims with the creativity and manic energy of an old Looney Tune. Enjoy that burst of fun while you can, folks, because after that, the fourth installment in the franchise settles into a business-as-usual slog.
Our celebrity-voiced heroes—nebbish mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), emasculated saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) and slurring sloth Sid (John Leguizamo)—get trapped on an ice floe along with Sid’s cantankerous granny (Wanda Sykes). They encounter a band of animal pirates, led by Peter Dinklage’s ape king and Jennifer Lopez’s sassy female tiger, and later recruit an army of Chip ’n’ Dale–like rodents to help them battle their way home. Meanwhile, the usual platitudes about helicopter parenting, staying true to your friends versus courting the cool crowd and making your own family circles are clumsily trotted out. Even the handful of hip new voices added into the mix—Drake, Nicki Minaj, Aziz Ansari—aren’t really allowed to add anything fresh. That sound you hear isn’t an ancient world tearing asunder; it’s the noise of coffers filling and checks being cashed.
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