Sequel "Dawn of the Dinosaurs" offers slapstick, tongue-in-cheek humor.
Let us thank the producers of "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" for remembering that adults sit beside the youngest viewers. The film interweaves vigorous, inventive slapstick, engaging voice talent and a script that depends more on tongue-in-cheek humor than perfunctory pop culture gags. Kids who are just graduating from Pull-Ups should have a blast, and ditto for their baby sitters. It isn't "Up," but it's not too many rungs down from "Finding Nemo."
Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano) and his mate Ellie (Queen Latifah) are expecting a calf, or a foal, or whatever a baby mammoth is called. Manny's new focus on family distracts him from the concerns of his sidekicks Diego (Denis Leary), an aging saber-tooth who fears he's losing his hunting skills, and Sid (John Leguizamo), a manic sloth who's jealous of Manny's impending fatherhood. Sid snatches three outsized eggs he comes across and cuddles them until his body heat and a warm sunrise combine to hatch them.
Unfortunately, they're large, hungry dinosaur chicks (or whatever), whose much larger, much hungrier mother arrives to retrieve them. The reptiles inhabit a tropical underworld beneath the mammal clan's icy environment, and the breach between the two worlds propels a search-and-rescue story line. Down below, a swashbuckling weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg) introduces our furry friends to a dazzling variety of lizards and rain-forest flora -- most of which want to eat them.
Also returning is Scrat, the squirrel-ish/rat-ish character who spends all his time in Wile E. Coyote-ish pursuit of an elusive acorn. His adventures are high-impact Looney Tunes knockabout that goose up the energy whenever the main story line takes a breather. This time Scrat takes a detour into Pepe Le Pew territory as a foxy rival steals his nut and his heart.
Human hatchlings will love the one-liners and oddball characters, and older viewers will be amused by prehistoric curiosities like Lou Rawls' boudoir classic "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" and Gilbert O'Sullivan's chestnut "Alone Again, Naturally." This one won't give the kiddies nightmares, or their parents, either.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186