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Thursday, April 13, 2006

'Ice Age' sequel will melt your heart

Scrat is back and global warming will never be the same.

The 2002 animated comedy Ice Age was about three prehistoric animals who become unlikely friends: Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger (Denis Leary).

They put aside their natural aversion for one another to help reunite a human child with its tribe.

Lovable as those characters are, the breakout star of Ice Age was the sabre-toothed squirrel named Scrat, who was desperate to secure a lone acorn.

Scrat was in that film for less than five minutes, but it made him a sensation and guaranteed him a bigger role in the sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown.

Ice Age: The Meltdown
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Once again Scrat opens the film, but this time he doesn't disappear. Every 15 minutes or so he's back with another death-defying attempt to get that elusive acorn.

His trials land him in a school of piranha and an eagle's nest, fighting tooth and claw with a hatchling.

Scrat's a winner and so is his new film.

It's filled with so much humour and sweetness, it's impossible to savour it all in one viewing.

When we meet Manny, Sid and Diego, they're enjoying the effects of global warming with their neighbours in a lush little valley guarded by a towering wall of ice.

Everything seems idyllic till Fast Tony, the pessimistic armadillo, points to all the vultures circling the valley.

From their vantage point high in the sky, they can see how fragile that wall of ice really is, releasing the dammed-up water that will soon turn the valley into a lake.

The animals must flee once again, this time to higher ground.

On the way, they meet Ellie (Queen Latifah), possibly the only female mammoth left in the world. That's the good news. The bad news is Ellie thinks she's a possum.

This silly case of mistaken identity yields great laughs, especially when we also meet Ellie's adopted daredevil brothers, Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck).

Just think of The Lion King's Pumba and Timon and you'll have an idea of what to expect from Crash and Eddie.

Latifah is the ideal choice to pair with Romano. He's so laid back and she's wildly enthusiastic. Their attempts at courtship are hilarious.

Leguizamo's Sid is still wonderfully manic and has a great moment when Sid is worshipped as a Fire God.

Leary's Diego is the only one of the original trio who suffers a setback in the sequel.

The crafty villain who learned to be a friend is still dripping with sarcasm, but he's turning into a pussycat, which is quite unlike Leary.

The story moves very quickly and the animation is bright and stylish.

The youngest of children will love the visuals, while adults and older children will savour the jokes.

One of the film's many highlights is a vulture version of Food Glorious Food from the musical Oliver!

Ice Age: The Meltdown is a joy from start to finish, as nutty and irreverent as its tiny hero Scrat.

(This film is rated PG)

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*Review by LOUIS B. HOBSON - Calgary Sun


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