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Massawyrm Wishes ICE AGE : THE MELTDOWN Was Extinct!!

But, Merrick likes sloths (slothes?)...

Massawyrm sent in his review of ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN.

I saw this film Saturday morning. While I don't share Massa's overall disdain for the movie, I'd definitely agree that it has quite a few problems.

Given that it's from the same species as ill-considered, artistically stunted CGI tripe like MADAGASCAR and DOOBIE...DINGLEBERRY...I mean DOOGAL, one's expectations can't be too high. None the less, the little ones were squirming by the end of this screening. Squirming noisily. THE MELTDOWN failed to hold their attention, and it didn't hold mine.

The two biggest problems I had with it were its scattershot approach (it feels like a mismatched pastiche of sequences that never really congeal into a unified whole), and how incredibly safe it is. I'm all for family entertainment...but this is like a lobotomized counselor's interpretation of "family entertainment". Anything remotely resembling edge has been's just plain flat.

I did laugh a few times, when moments of cleverness illustrated what the whole film could easily have been. But these moments were also a slap in the face – like dangling a cookie just out of reach. Within a few hours of the screening, I'd already forgotten the details I wanted to discuss in my review. It's that bland.

With such amazing CGI technologies, any kind of story can be realized - in any way imaginable. But, why do so few filmmakers (Zemekis - the creepiness of POLAR EXPRESS aside, and Pixar) deploy it as a genuine storytelling mechanism? Such a shame. Now that directors and writers can do anything at all, we end up with jive-talking, flatulent animals that have been anthropomorphized into vaguely offensive stereotypes. Wow. Ingenuity knows no bounds. If this is the best we can manage, I’d rather sit at home and guess what my dog may be thinking - which I have done, on occasion.

But this isn't my review, and I sincerely apologize to Massa for co-opting it.

Here's Massawyrm...

Hola all. Massawyrm here. Well, Ice Age: The Meltdown is a wash, a total waste of time and talent that will prove to be this year’s most readily forgotten high grossing film. What appears to be nothing but a cobbled together assimilation of all the spitballed ideas written down, but rejected, for inclusion in the first film, this meandering sequel barely qualifies for ‘feature film’ status by stretching out as much filler as humanly possible. This isn’t so much a film as it is a series of short Ice Age episodes haphazardly woven together to give the appearance of actually being a feature. The kids will love it. But no one over the age of 13 will.

Now there are three types of movies intended for minors – family films (those films that include something for everyone and will entertain anyone who can stomach ‘wholesome’ entertainment – movies like Eight Below, Sky High or Shrek), children’s films (those magical little movies fully intended for kids, but speak to anyone who is a kid at heart – movies like The Iron Giant, The Wizard of Oz or The Little Mermaid) and the least of the three brothers, Kid’s films (those magnificent turds that entertain only those who’ve yet to develop any sort of cinematic taste – movies like Home Alone 3, anything that premiers on the Disney Channel or any of the Land Before Time films beyond the first.) The Meltdown is a perfect example of a ‘kids’ film, a film intended for minors that doesn’t for a moment acknowledge that an adult would ever possibly be present at a viewing of it for very long. As mundane as the most pedestrian of Saturday morning cartoons, The Meltdown is the worst kind of sequel: a slapdash retread meant only to cash in.

Now, there’s a reason Pixar is as successful as they are. They’re smart. They obviously care about their product. Hell, part of their feud with Disney was over Disney’s insistence on sequels when they instead wanted to tell new stories that were far superior than any sequel could be. They’ve made one sequel, reportedly unwillingly, but managed to make it a film that many consider superior to the first. With Toy Story 2 they found a great story and made something really remarkable and heartwarming. But that’s why Pixar is Pixar and Fox is Fox. Apparently Fox Animation has no such scruples, no champions of genius within their ranks to fight for the development of a real film. Instead, someone said ‘Cash In’ and they immediately tracked down the janitor to get their wastebaskets back to mine them for ideas. Because that’s all this is folks.

A relatively plotless stretch of film as barren as its icy surroundings, The Meltdown sets up the immediate weak premise that they’re all gonna die. Again. And the only way to survive is to make a long trek across the valley to some boat that will save them all. That’s it. More walking. Lot’s more walking. The rest of the film is a series of ‘misadventures’, and I use that word in the loosest of possible terms, that struggles feebly to hit the 75-minute mark necessary for theatrical distribution. Ray Ramano’s Manny gets depressed along the way because he believes he’s the last mammoth alive. Enter Queen Latifa’s Ellie – a mammoth who believes she’s a possum. Yeah, that gag gets old about 30 seconds after it’s revealed, and sadly is the only interesting thing going on in the film. John Leguizamo’s Sid wants desperately once again to get respect, and once again does retarded things to earn it. Occasionally this gets addressed in completely random encounters that have no bearing on the plot whatsoever. It’s like the producers thought ‘Hey, what if we had Sid know how to create fire so a group of multi-colored sloths could worship him as ‘The Fire King’?’ ‘I don’t know – you think we could get them to sing and dance exactly like that lemur scene in Madagascar?’ ‘Sure, I don’t see why not.’ ‘Do it.’

Then the writer cobbled together a script only for one of the producers to exclaim ‘Holy shit, we totally forgot about Dennis Leary’s Diego.’ ‘Dude, you’re right.’ “What the hell are we going to have him do?’ ‘Ummm.’ ‘Errr.’ ‘Well, he’s a cat, right?’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘And everything’s melting, right?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘So cats are afraid of the water, right?’ ‘I’m not following you.’ ‘Dude, we totally make him overcome his fear of water.’ ‘Alright, throw it in.’ But now our intrepid brainstorming staff comes to a dreadful conclusion. The film lacks any tension whatsoever. It’s just walking. ‘Say, anyone here seen Jaws: The revenge?’ ‘Wasn’t that the retarded one where the shark follows the woman 1000 miles for no apparent reason?’ ‘Yup. What if we had a frozen prehistoric creature thaw out and do the same thing?’ ‘Follow them for no apparent reason, even though they’re walking over land for hundreds of miles?’ ‘Yep.’ ‘Okay, make it two prehistoric creatures and throw it in. How much time have we filled?’ ‘About fifty, maybe fifty five minutes.’ ‘Shit, this has to be at least seventy-five. Any ideas?’ At this point I’m certain the sound of silence was deafening. Hours of mind-numbing silence broken only by the creaking of chairs and the tapping of pencils. Then, out of the blue, the college graduate on the staff speaks up.

‘Say, anyone here ever read Grapes of Wrath?’ ‘No.’ ‘Nope.’ ‘No.’ ‘I think I saw the movie.’ ‘Well, there’s this stupid fucking turtle in it.’ ‘I don’t remember a turtle in the movie. You want us to add turtles?’ ‘No, this turtle is trying to cross a dusty road and serves as a metaphor for the family’s trek across the country.’ ‘Alright, well add a Turtle.’ ‘No, hear me out.’ ‘Nope, we’ve already added a turtle – hey maybe we could have the turtle get eaten by the Jaws: The revenge guys’ ‘Do it.’ ‘No, my point was that while the turtle serves as a metaphor, the real reason Steinbeck added it was to appease his editor and make the book twice as long.’ ‘Dude, we already said we’re adding a turtle.’ ‘No, I was speaking in metaphor.’ ‘Now I’m confused.’ ‘The squirrel.’ ‘Oh yeah, we forgot about the squirrel.’ ‘Yeah, what if we filled out the rest of the film with scenes of the squirrel and use him as a break in between scenes we couldn’t fit together with good writing.’ ‘I like the way you think. What should he do in these scenes?’ ‘The same thing he always does. Try to get an acorn. And fails.’ ‘So like 20 minutes of Wile E. Coyote without the rockets?’ ‘Well, I was actually thinking more of a nihilistic expression of everyone’s need to grasp at their dreams only to meet with bitter disappointment and existential crisi…’ ‘What the fuck are you talking about, college boy?’ ‘Um, yeah. Like 20 minutes of Wile E. Coyote without the rockets.’

And that’s the whole film. Everything there is. Okay, I’m lying. There’s an amazingly nonsensical sequence in which a flock of vultures sing “Food, Glorious Food” from OLIVER!, with the words rewritten to be about the joys of eating carrion – but that’s the very last thing there is. It’s all filler, a pathetic attempt to make as much money as they can with the least possible amount of effort. And while the kids seemed to enjoy it, there were several periods in the film where the chatter of bored children almost drowned out the voices of the bored actors. Thank god the squirrel kept coming back. That always managed to shut them up.

Only recommended for the youngest and least discriminating of viewers, and of course anyone who thinks I’m full of shit because the first one was SO GOOD that the second one CAN’T suck as bad as I say it does (but mostly because I think you probably deserve it.) It’s not really unbearable, but I’ve had bus rides that were more exciting. This is one for parents to drop the kids off at and pray they don’t ask for it on DVD (they will, Fox marketing won’t allow for any other outcome.) I feel for you parents, really I do. I would pull my hair out from boredom on a second viewing. I can only imagine what harm you’ll bring to yourselves when you have to listen to it the 50 times your 5 year old will insist upon watching it.

Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will.


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