“Ice Age” is a mild, well-intentioned movie. You want to like it simply because it obviously is trying so hard to be liked. It doesn’t have all the necessary tools to be up there with its computer-animated brethren “Toy Story” or “Shrek,” but if earnestness were a category, it would win an Oscar.
It is pretty entertaining, too, with occasional bursts of outright hilarity but mostly just a general sense of amusement. It is set at the dawn of a new ice age, with all the mammals migrating to warmer climes. A sullen mammoth named Manfred (voice of Ray Romano) meets a dunderheaded sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo, who apparently went to the Adam Sandler school of speech impediments), who insists on being his travel partner. The two of them find a human baby that has been separated from its tribe and reluctantly set out to find its parents.
The saber-toothed tigers, however, want the baby for their own purposes: revenge. The humans have killed most of the tigers, and it’s an eye for an eye in these primitive times. Diego (Denis Leary) the tiger embarks on the journey with Manfred and Sid, ostensibly helping them find the humans but really leading them toward his own band of hungry saber-tooths.
There’s a marvelous sequence in which the principal characters all shoot down an ice slide, showing the wonders of computer animation. There’s also a funny bit about the dodos, who are a doomsday cult.
I wonder if the film is fast-paced or visual enough to capture the attention of young children, but perhaps it’s been too long since I was a kid to remember what interested me. There is humor and good will to spare, and that’s enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
B (; )