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Toon Talk: Ice Age
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Toon Talk, From the Other Side
Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
(c) 20th Century Fox
Welcome to a brand new Toon Talk "sub-column", From the Other Side, where I will take a look at animated features released by other motion picture production companies other then Disney.
First up: Ice Age, the recent release from 20th Century Fox's CGI branch, Blue Sky, which survived the fallout from Fox's disastrous reception for it's last animated film, Titan AE. Due in large part to Blue Sky founder Chris Wedge's Oscar-winning short Bunny (whose animation proved ground-breaking in it's use of lighting and fur to create characters more akin to puppets then pixels) this project was green-lit for 3-D computer animation, although it was first slated for traditional 2-D animation.
(c) 20th Century Fox
Unlike, say Shrek or even Monsters, Inc., Ice Age is a more traditionally told comedy-adventure set in the time where dinosaurs no longer ruled the Earth and humans hadn't quite got a hold of it yet. A typical 'odd trio' (as opposed to 'odd couple') road trip is the basis for the story, teaming up a mangy group consisting of a reclusive woolly mammoth named Manfred (voiced by Everybody Loves Raymond's lead schmuck Ray Romano), an obnoxious sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo, who after this and Moulin Rouge has the market cornered on lisping sidekicks) and the saber-toothed-tiger-with-a-secret Diego (the drolly sarcastic Denis Leary). Their mission: to return a lost Eskimo infant to it's tribe.
Slapsticky antics ensue during their trek, including encounters with a rhinoceros gay couple (The Proud Family's Cedric the Entertainer and NewsRadio's Stephen Root), a flock of dodos that answer the age-old question of how they became extinct, and a menacing saber-tooth named Soto (ER's resident hunky doc Goran Visnjic), who has his own plans for the little tike.
Interspersed throughout are hilarious appearances by a creature named Scrat (voiced by Wedge, who directed the film). Half squirrel, half rat, this intrepid varmint steals the entire movie with it's Tex Avery-inspired antics, involving his seemingly never-ending quest for a suitable resting spot for his treasured acorn. (Expect gobs of merchandise and the inevitable tie-in video featuring this furry little ham in your local toy stores soon.)