I saw “Ice Age: The Meltdown” this weekend in a theater full of kids on Sunday afternoon. Apparently this was replicated across the country, as the movie will need a herd of mammoths to haul all the money they took in. $70 million is great, especially in an age where movie theaters think audiences are dwindling away despite movies worth seeing. Instead, what they think is “worth seeing” just doesn’t match the American audience.
“No one had any idea it would do this kind of business,” said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations, who expected the “Ice Age” sequel to debut in the $55 million range.
“The notion that people don’t want to go to the movies is dispelled by something like this,” he said. “It proves people will line up for the right movie if given the motivation.”
Oh, if you’d like a clue as to the next big bucks hit? You should have heard the kids laughing and squealing during the “Over the Hedge” trailer; it was equal to the laughs heard during Ice Age. I bet that has a similar opening weekend take.
I have a generally spoiler-free review, but there are enough spoilers that if you just want my go/no go, I’d say “Definitely go!”
The cast from the first movie returns, now joined by Queen Latifah (and with bit parts for Jay Leno and Steven Root). The great migration from the first movie has resulted in the animals living in a pleasant valley. Now the ice age is over and the glaciers are melting. The animals are living it up in their naturally formed water park.
However, Manny, Sid and Diego notice that the vast glacier at one end of the valley is melting into a thousand-foot-high lake. A lone vulture points out that the valley is surrounded by melting glaciers; the happy animals are, in fact, living in “a big bowl.” With salvation at the other end of a long trek down the valley, everyone moves out as fast as they can hoof it.
That’s the basic plot, and I’ll leave out all the dangers they encounter because that’s half the fun. The major subplot involves Manny’s discovery of another mammoth; he’s torn between his general interest in seeing the species continue while realizing that she is quite misinformed as to her place in the animal kingdom. (I’m purposefully being vague.) Manny also has widower’s guilt due to the death of his wife and child (as alluded to in the previous movie); it’s never stated as such, and frankly I wonder if people who haven’t seen the first movie can really pick up on that. Perhaps it could have been better explained.
Sid is as intentionally annoying as ever. I think “intentionally annoying” is hard to pull off, where a character is supposed to be despised by the characters onscreen but not by the audience. (Still, Sid is hardly Jar-Jar Binks.) Two new possum characters provide additional annoyances. Diego is rather underused despite an interesting minor subplot.
Scrat, the acorn-chasing rodent, is as terrific as ever. This is one of those movies that looks like it’s over and everyone stands up (well, not yours truly; I knew we had to see Scrat again) before noticing that there is a coda.
“Ice Age: The Meltdown” gets *** out of ***. It’s not such a great film that you’ll want to watch it a dozen times, but you’re guaranteed a good laugh and the ticket price will be money well spent. See it with a roomful of kids if you can.