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Tired, lackluster 'Ice Age' 5 would be better off frozen

Posted July 24

"ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE" — 1 star — voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez; PG (mild rude humor and some action/peril); in general release

In a year plastered with mostly successful movies about animated animals (“Zootopia,” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” et al.), the latest Ice Age installment isn’t on par with its competition.

Continuing his ongoing and never-ending pursuit of an elusive acorn, Scrat the squirrel begins “Ice Age: Collision Course” by inexplicably winding up in an alien spacecraft and being launched into outer space. As previously seen in the 2015 animated short, “Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe,” the squirrel’s extra-terrestrial misadventures set in motion a series of events that expedite a sort of Big Bang.

As Scrat accidentally sends a gigantic meteor hurtling toward earth, a star-studded cast of returning characters must scramble to devise a plan for survival. So, basically, the premise of “Ice Age: Collision Course” is nearly identical to the four films that preceded it.

Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo lend their voices in reprised roles as Manny and Ellie the mammoths, Diego the sabre-toothed tiger and Sid the sloth, respectively. Audiences will also recognize characters voiced by Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes and a handful of other series regulars.

Minor family drama becomes the least of Manny’s concerns when he and Sid discover that the flaming asteroid is on a (you guessed it) collision course with their peaceful primitive home. They quickly alert their loved ones and head off into the wilderness, where they encounter Buck the one-eyed weasel (voiced again by Simon Pegg). Buck has learned that the imminent catastrophe was predicted long ago, and it becomes the mammals’ improbable quest to prevent the prophecy from coming to pass, thereby saving the planet from certain destruction for the umpteenth time.

Along the way, a host of new animals are introduced, headlined by a love-struck mammoth named Julian (Adam Devine), a trio of villainous pterodactyls (led by Nick Offerman) and a utopian society of beasts (most notably, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Michael Strahan).

Visually, “Ice Age: Collision Course” must have been a lot of fun for the animators who worked on it — the computer animation is terrific and the 3-D effects are entertaining — but the polished visuals aren’t enough to save the film from its mundane dialogue and tired plotlines; young love, overprotective parents, forgotten anniversaries and an anticlimactic race against the clock are just a few of the generic elements copied-and-pasted into the franchise’s fifth iteration.

Considering the young target demographic of the movie, it should be no surprise that slapstick comedy is used as a crutch throughout the film. With so much of the humor catering to young viewers, an unsurprising number of the gags revolve around the characters’ anatomy, mild violence or a combination of both. This isn’t to say that some adults won’t get an occasional chuckle out of the movie, but many of the jokes (and an oddly out-of-place musical number) will fall flat for older, eye-rolling audiences.

The storyline feels lazily safe and will not be anything new to those familiar with the previous installments of the family comedy series. This time around, the movie seems so focused on going for giggles that it forgets about heart; oftentimes, the actors sound bored, like they’re just waiting to collect that next paycheck.

Sadly, as much fun as it tries to have along the way, the lackluster climax of the film winds up being incredibly unfulfilling and now, five movies into the Ice Age saga, it’s just a matter of time before moviegoers beg the asteroid to mercifully put the franchise out of its misery.

Although children 10 and under will likely enjoy the movie, spending 10 bucks per person to take the family out to an evening showing is difficult to justify. “Collision Course” would be much better suited as a baby-sitting tool on a rainy day six months from now.

“Ice Age: Collision Course” is rated PG for mild rude humor and some action/peril; running time: 94 minutes.

Twitter: atownmania

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