A Sequel for the (Ice) Ages ; 'Ice Age: The Meltdown' Is a Family Reunion That Everyone Can Warm Up To

Article excerpt

I enjoyed the computer-animated "Ice Age," and its sequel, "Ice Age: The Meltdown," is just about as good. Sequels are usually made for no other reason than commercial expediency, but I remember thinking when I saw the first film that I wouldn't mind spending more time with Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), and especially the prehistoric squirrel, Scrat. Most sequels, in essence, are family reunions, so it helps if you like the family.

In "Ice Age: The Meltdown," the welcomed warming of the climate has resulted in an unfortunate consequence: A glacial dam holding back oceans of water is threatening to break and flood the valley. A vast exodus to the drier end of the valley is begun, with vultures hovering in the air and a pair of newly unfrozen alligatorish marauders darting for prey below the ice.

This time, Diego is more intricately computer-drawn and less volatile. It turns out he has a fear of water. (He's like a straight- faced blood brother to the Cowardly Lion from Oz.) Diego is the most realistic, and therefore the least interesting, of the critters. Sid the sloth, with his purple nose and lisp, is much livelier and funnier. He reaches his apotheosis when he accidentally finds himself in the company of a village of sloths who believe him to be a fire god. They become a squirmy mass of hysterical worshipers. This part is like a rodent takeoff on "The Man Who Would Be King."

Things drag a bit whenever Manny is around. Maybe it's because, unlike so many of the other creatures, Manny moves slowly and ponderously. He couldn't have been much fun to animate, and his dialogue is often ponderous, too. It doesn't help if your ear is attuned to hearing Romano in "Everybody Loves Raymond. …


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