The voice of Ray Romano again provides the vocal cords for Manny the mammoth, who still is palling around with Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo). Sid’s parents and hygiene-challenged uncle arrive on the scene, only to take off again, leaving Sid’s dotty grandmother (Wanda Sykes) in his care.
Manny and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) are having problems with their headstrong daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), who has a crush on a young male mammoth and wants to hang out with him and his cool crowd. Peaches spends a lot of time with a “molehog” (a cross between a mole and a hedgehog) named Louis (Josh Gad), whom she considers a friend but who feels a lot more than friendship for Peaches.
The continental drift in question is a physical threat that looms over the animals, which decide to keep moving to escape it. Because of an accident, Diego, Manny and Sid are separated from the rest and find themselves at sea on a sort of iceberg ship. They are threatened by the arrival of Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) and his crew of toughened animals that includes Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a tiger that spars with Diego. All Manny wants is to get back to his family, but Gutt wants him to join his crew … or else. Meanwhile, Peaches has some lessons to learn about not only being a daughter, but also about being a loyal friend.
The animation in Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is spectacular, and the 3-D is some of the best this year. Animation lends itself to creative 3-D trickery, and co-directors Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier tweak their visuals so that every tusk, trunk and saber tooth extends into our laps.
The team also does more with ice and water than they ever have before. One long fight sequence against a giant crab in the middle of a choppy ocean alone justifies the price of a 3-D upgrade. From a studio’s perspective, “Ice Age” sequels are no-brainers. Each new chapter manages to improve on the box-office fortunes of its immediate predecessor. But that doesn’t mean the sequels have to be dumb.
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is energetic, inventive and frequently amusing. And in Hollywood’s current age of remakes and reboots, that’s pretty cool.
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is showing Sept. 7 in 2D only for Family Friday Last Hurrah, 8 & 9 in 3D. Rated: PG Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes.