Ice Age: Collision Course

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After three harmless, amusing adventures and a fourth movie that I didn’t see, the “Ice Age” franchise becomes a burden to society with its fifth entry, “Collision Course,” a dismal animated sitcom that exhausts any remaining goodwill toward the series and its bland, dopey characters.

In this episode, Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) is so mopey about his daughter Peaches’ (Keke Palmer) impending marriage to a nice mammoth named Julian (Adam Devine) that he has forgotten his own wedding anniversary with Ellie (Queen Latifah)! Also, less importantly, there is a giant meteor heading for Earth that will kill them all.

So the mammoths and their entourage — Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), Granny sloth (Wanda Sykes), Diego the tiger (Denis Leary), those weasels or possums or whatever (Seann William Scott, Josh Peck) — head for safety, led by Buck the one-eyed weasel or possum or whatever (Simon Pegg), who has read the prophecies (there are prophecies now) and thinks he knows how to divert the meteor’s course. Meanwhile, Manny and Ellie conspire to scare Peaches out of getting married and moving away, because they will miss her and are selfish.

Also meanwhile, a fearsome dino-parrot (Nick Offerman) and his two offspring (Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz) are in pursuit of Buck, primarily to add one more element of conflict to the story. The behind-the-scenes conflict is that new characters keep being added and then immediately turned into dead weight. Poor Diego has nothing to do, and his new mate, Shira (Jennifer Lopez), has even less.

These films have always leaned toward corny sitcom humor, but in the past, they’ve been at least partially redeemed by strong physical gags, especially involving Scrat the squirrel. Not this time. This time, Scrat spends the whole movie in space (seriously), traveling in an alien spaceship he found frozen in the ice, ricocheting off planets and inadvertently causing the meteor showers. And on terra firma, the trio of returning screenwriters (Michael J. Wilson, Michael Berg, Yoni Brenner) offer up only the lamest, most perfunctory zingers and one-liners before wrapping things up in a nice bow: “Change isn’t easy, but it’s part of life.” Then everybody hugs and the studio audience says, “Awwww.”

C- (1 hr., 34 min.; PG, the usual animated tomfoolery.)