Cast: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg
Directors: Galen T Chu and Mike Thurmeier
Rating: Two stars
THE BUCK SHOULD STOP HERE
Ice Age: Collision Course explains definitively what scientists have yet not been able to – the origin of the universe. The film opens with Scrat, that familiar and adorable sabre-toothed squirrel again trying to bury his beloved acorn. Just that this time he somehow finds himself on board an alien space ship, hurtling into space. There’s something very Tom and Jerry about the manner in which he fumbles with switches and accidentally creates the solar system. The comedy (and some of this is funny) hinges on exaggerated tomfoolery, not wit or circumstance. You can’t help but chuckle a little when Scrat sends asteroids on a collision course towards Earth. But that’s where the chuckling ends.
The fifth instalment of the Ice Age franchise, Collision Course leaves you expectedly tired. The horse it’s trying to beat was already dead in 2012 when Continental Drift released. Given the lacklustre writing of this latest offering, you just come away feeling that much like the American presidency, digitally animated films should have terms that are fixed. If nostalgia is your thing, then there’s admittedly some relief here. There’s Manny (Ray Romano), the woolly mammoth who is disgruntled about Julian (Adam DeVine) courting his daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). Ellie (Queen Latifah) tries to pacify her husband, but Manny insists on making Collision Course a prehistoric Meet The Parents, and there really is nothing entertaining or inventive about his sulking resistance. It is all very boring.
There are of course those asteroids that are coming. The Ice Age herd we’d once grown to love tries to save the world again, but Diego (Dennis Leary), the sabre-toothed tiger doesn’t have a single line that’s memorable and there’s nothing novel left about the ground sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) whose shenanigans were once so endearing. The trouble with Collision Course is not the talent of its voice cast, but the sheer unwieldiness of the script they’ve been given. Though Buck (Simon Pegg), the one-eyed weasel is back with his cunning plans, the respite he provides is only brief. There’s nothing that Jennifer Lopez has to do as the tigress Shira and when Eddie (John Peck), the opossum, yells “Funsucker”, he could well be referring to all of Collision Course and not just the grumpy old Manny.
They are hard to count, but Collision Course has more than twenty characters, and as a result of this, even the most consequential of parts feels like a cameo. There’s something intrinsically humorous about a yoga-loving llama who calls himself the Shangri Llama (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and getting the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to play a weasel astronomer is a nice touch, but what Collision Course lacks is surprise. Not for once do you expect the apocalypse the film’s cast tries to avoid. There are points in time when you almost want to will it. The visuals in parts are stunning, but you just leave hoping that when Sid said, “Sounds like it’s slowing down … yep, it’s definitely over,” he was talking about the film and the franchise, not just the meteor shower. Five really is one too many.