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Ice Age: Collision Course is bizarrely entertaining

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Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) embark on an epic quest. (Blue Sky Studios/provided)
  • Blue Sky Studios/provided
  • Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) embark on an epic quest.

The fifth in the bafflingly lengthy franchise, Ice Age: Collision Course peppers its banality with enough sprinklings of madness (including prehistoric creatures riding on a UFO) to keep the parents awake. Its formulaic plot and familiar family drama (the kids are growing up, love is hard, etc) lean hard into its ascientific angle, with a cameo appearance by notable movie-logic debunker and TV astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Its scatalogical humor and tired laugh-track sitcom gags are never as fun as when it riffs on its own impossibility.

Collision Course splits up the neo-typical slapstick short that precedes animated features, in Ice Age tradition featuring the elastic acorn-hunting squirrel Scrat, as a sort of godlike plot device throughout the film. Any time the rest of the plot seems too rote, familial, or derivative of situation comedies, we cut back to Scrat’s Looney Tunes, Marvin the Martian, space adventure to jostle the plot free of its bindings. The sheer insanity of the situation inevitably leans the action to fun rather than boredom, though that quickly diminishes once we return to terra firma.

Ray Romano (as the mammoth patriarch Manny) continues to earn a paycheck with his commitment to even the dumbest lines while John Leguizamo (Sid, the ugliest sloth ever presented to viewers) lisps his way to the funniest lines in the film even though the schtick was old four movies ago. Denis Leary (Diego the sabertooth) has a girlfriend this time around, but neither amount to more than three or four lines over the course of the movie, and mostly exist as an excuse to keep producing toys and kid’s meal fodder for young fans of fangs.

Simon Pegg brings more energy to his Mad Hatter weasel than the rest of the cast combined, rollicking from a musical introduction to a constant stream of cockamamie ideas, his stupidity is still at least entertaining. Many other fine actors appear in the credits, including Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, and Max Greenfield, but the characters they play leave such negligible impressions that it's easier just to ignore them.

This said, Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame, should not be a voice actor. Or, at least not like this. His villainous Dromaeosaur, the evolutionary link between dinosaur and bird and according to the credits named “Gavin”, feels extremely out of place. A gruff, man’s man voice roaring from a sly, scheming egg predator just sounds off. That Wikipedia describes his animated, feathered and scaled character as “handsome” apropos of nothing is the only tangential delight his role brings.

Not surreal enough to transcend its sub-Michael Bay asteroid plot and ABC Family prehistoric problems (Will Sid the sloth ever find love? Will Manny let his daughter marry a strange, early ‘00s slang-slinging unathletic mammoth? And what of Sid’s elderly grandmother?), Collision Course still brings enough weirdness to stay lively. A crystal city inside an asteroid, populated by animals over 400 years old, is as oddball a combination of aesthetics since the Flintstones met the Jetsons.

While it’s a pity that the film couldn’t go through a few rewrites to punch-up some of its biggest groaners, kids will still be entertained by its ultimately wholesome and bizarre antics.

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