Whimsical fun in prehistoric times, with a bit of action and adventure mixed in: that's the recipe for the computer-animated family films that began with "Ice Age" in 2002 and continued with "Ice Age: The Meltdown" four years later. Now the lovable gang of long-extinct creatures is back for a third escapade, tens of thousands of years ago. Here's a look at Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
As puny as a giant wooly mammoth can feel, that is. Manny the mammoth is leader of his little tribe of animals that includes, of course, his mate Ellie who is expecting their first child.
|"Manny, this is the world our baby is going to grow up in. You can't change that."|
|"Of course I can. I'm the biggest thing on Earth."|
Their constant companion is Sid the sloth, who upsets their comfortable little corner of the world when he shows up with three large eggs he found in an icy cave.
|"Sid, whatever you are doing, it's a bad idea. You're not meant to be a parent."|
|"First sign: stealing someone else's eggs. Second sign: one of them almost became an omlet."|
To Sid's delight, the eggs hatch into cute little dinosaurs. Okay, so dinosaurs actually lived tens of millions of years before the Ice Age; but in the movie, some of them survived in a subterranean cavern …and mama comes out to find her babies.
Comic actor Ray Romano once again is the voice of Manny.
"You are familiar with everybody around you and you are familiar with your character," he explains, " but you also have to know where the character has gone in the four years since the last time you did him."
Singer and actress Queen Latifah returns as the voice of Ellie, who not only has to deal with her nervous mate, but also the impending birth of their offspring.
"It was actually cool," she says. "I hope I can be as calm and collected as she is when I'm pregnant. She has all kinds of crazy things and dinosaurs and everybody going nuts around her and she manages to keep it together. I think she thinks if she falls apart then everybody is really going to fall apart. I really like how Ellie handles the whole thing; and she is supportive to Manny. She is like a supportive wife and yet she'll give it to him just enough to make it think."
Accompanying Manny, Ellie and Sid on their journey, again, is Diego the saber-toothed tiger. Comic and actor Denis Leary does his voice.
"My main thing is making sure he is in the movie and doesn't get killed so I get to be in the next one," jokes Leary.
"It's not a hard thing to say yes to. I don't know how many actors would find it difficult to be asked to go into a room to record, once again, an incredibly successful cartoon voice," he adds. "From my point of view it's kind of like gravy."
The character with the least brains and, therefore, the funniest lines, is Sid the sloth, again played by John Leguizamo who slips in the occasional quip that parents will probably appreciate more than their kids do.
"You don't want to be offensive, so it has to be funny enough and clever enough so that it goes over a kid's head, but the parents can put two-and-two together without having to be embarrassed," he says. "It has to be in a way that I would be happy to bring my kids to it so I don't have to feel that there is innuendo I have to start explaining to my daughter."
Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the second "Ice Age" film for director Carlos Saldanha; and the Brazilian-born filmmaker says the gentle double-entendre has become a part of the series.
"As long as it is not offensive, as John was saying, I think it is fun to do that because that is where the comedy comes across," the director says. "There is a lot of physical comedy that helps the kids get engaged; so there is a balance of the verbal cleverness of the lines delivered by these guys combined with the comedy of the characters themselves and the animation, the fun and the physical comedy of it. That and the emotionality of the arcs that the characters are going through combine, I think, to create a solid structure."
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs introduces a new mammal: a wily weasel named Buck, voiced by English actor Simon Pegg; and the desperately hungry squirrel Scrat is still chasing the acorn that has eluded him for three films now.