Director: Steve Martino & Mike Thurmeier.
Cast: (voices of) Ray Romano, Dennis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer.
FIRST, a confession - I haven't seen any of the other Ice Age films, so I can't compare this third sequel to any of its predecessors.
I'm not sure how I missed the other three, but on the strength of Continental Drift, I'm in no hurry to catch up on the rest of the series.
This time Manny the mammoth, Diego the smilodon, and Sid the sloth are facing the separation of the continents, which results in them being torn away from their homes by a seismic shift and set adrift on an iceberg.
As they try to figure out a way back, they are confronted by the piratical Captain Gutt (Dinklage), a prehistoric ape who leads a ragtag team of creatures in pillaging on the high seas.
It's this pirate plot that keeps the film afloat because there isn't much else to the film. In between the Looney Tunes-style shenanigans of Scrat the acorn-obsessed sabre-toothed squirrel, the story is like a less interesting Finding Nemo - father is separated from family, attempts to reunite.
It doesn't help that Manny, Diego and Sid are among the most boring characters to lead a franchise in recent times. Manny's lone distinctive quality is his determination - otherwise he's just a bland sketch of every sitcom dad you've ever seen. Diego's almost as bad, while the supposedly funny one, Sid, is superceded by his own grandma (voiced by Wanda Sykes) in this installment (who is actually funny).
The film's theme of "family is important" is run-of-the-mill and the life lessons Manny and Diego learn are pretty much non-existent. The travails of Manny's daughter Peaches (Palmer) are ripped straight from an after-school special.
There are a few laughs, mostly centred around Scrat, but the best bit is the pirates. Captain Gutt is a refreshingly scary kiddy villain and his assorted crew of elephant seals, kangaroos and prehistoric rabbits get more laughs and hold more interest than anything Manny, Diego and Sid say or do. Watching an entire movie about these pirates is a far more enticing prospect than Ice Age 5.
Better than the film is the short shown before it, which is a five-minute silent Simpsons episode about Maggie's adventures at daycare. It's subtle, smart, endearing and amusing - many of the things Ice Age 4 isn't.
Sure, the kids will get a laugh. The parents may be sporadically amused. It's harmless enough, has lots of bright moving colours, and will keep your kids distracted. Is it a good film? Not really.