School’s out for summer and with the rain lashing down, it is shaping up to be a typically challenging time for parents.
How do you keep your children amused over the school holidays when the elements won’t allow them outdoors?
One traditional method is to pack them off to the cinema and so 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios have duly obliged at the start of the holidays with the fourth movie in the ‘Ice Age’ stable.
‘Ice Age’ has been an underwhelming but overachieving (in terms of box office) animated movie franchise, focussing on the comic adventures of a mismatched animal gang featuring the mammoth Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) a sabre toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) a sloth called Sid (Jon Leguizamo) and a speechless sabre toothed squirrel known as Scrat.
Over the series, Manny has acquired a family – Ellie (Queen Latifah) and baby daughter Peaches and two irritiating opossums have joined the gang, Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck).
The animation is technically impressive but there is no subtlety about these movies. The gags are well signposted but there is nothing in them to even compete with the sophisticated humour or intelligence of Disney-Pixar classics like the ‘Toy Story’ series, ‘Up’, ‘The Princess and the Frog’ or ‘Tangled’.
And yet, the third film in the franchise, ‘Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ in 2009 became the fourth biggest grossing animated movie of all time.
‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’ begins with Scrat chasing, as ever, an acorn only to set in chain the break up of the land masses on earth, creating (in a series of tired gags) Africa, America, Australia and Italy (which kicks a land mass football).
Meanwhile Manny is preoccupied with his now teenage daughter, Peaches’ (Keke Palmer) obsession with local heartthrob Ethan (played by Canadian recording artist, Drake) but is separated from his family along with Diego, Sid and Sid’s granny (Wanda Skykes) as the ice lamdscape breaks up.
While floating on a iceberg desperate to reunite with Manny’s family, the gang stumbled upon an ice ship piloted by the evil prehistoric ape Captain Gutt (voiced with gusto by ‘Games of Thrones’ Peter Drinklage) and his crew featuring a sabre toothed cat, Shira (Jennifer Lopez).
And after Simon Pegg’s turn as the swashbuckling weasel with an eye patch Buck in ‘Ove Age 3′, his usual partner in crime Nick Frost appears in this movie as a dim 4,000 pound elephant seal called Flynn.
And so we have the usual rambling adventure punctuated with lame, obvious humour.
Not that your little moppets will care. While your mind turns to the pipes that need lagging in your house, they will lap up every moment with every morsel of popcorn they shove into their mouths.
‘Ice Age 4′ could be a soul destroying experience, if you let it but it is not even worth that effort.
It probably is proof that hell has frozen over but if it achieves one thing this summer, it will be keeping your children mildly entertained and dry.
But I have to say Disney-Pixar’s ‘Brave’ can’t come quickly enough.
‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’ opened in the Movie House cinemas in Northern Ireland and other UK and Irish cinemas on June 29, 2012.