It only took one film longer than the Indiana Jones movies, but the Ice Age series has finally landed on its Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Not that astrophysics have ever been the calling card for the Ice Age series, but you’d think that a film in which dinosaurs, mammals, and spaceships all coexist in perfect harmony would at least have a difficult time recruiting the cameo services of the famously Gravity-hating Neil deGrasse Tyson.
For those just catching up with the series, Ray Romano is Manny, the woolly-mammoth equivalent of a CBS sitcom father: mired in outmoded paternal mores, eternally befuddled, and perpetually outnumbered among his clan. Charitable assessments of the franchise’s earlier installments could theoretically position his Pleistocene pissiness against the macroscopic end-of-era time period, metaphorically equating his inability to change with the times with a bunch of animals that literally didn’t get to. But with Ice Age: Collision Course, at this point that keg’s been duly tapped.
What’s left behind is a cast of thin, coloring-book characters, perfunctorily voiced by entirely too expensive celebrity voices, staring down yet another potentially apocalyptic scenario that they will inevitably thwart, ensuring the series can continue to keep the franchise and its characters in limbo. Despite that, Collision Course seems to be aiming in the right direction. With all real potential to mine any pathos from the situation effectively gone by this fifth film, the mass marketers behind its development evidently decided to jettison all of their Disney prayer candles and instead light up some Tex Avery firecrackers. Even if the results are far from joyful or subversive, at the very least no one involved seems to be taking it seriously anymore. (How could they when the opening scene finds the indefatigable, acorn-hoarding squirrel Scrat tripping his way behind the wheel of a Gene Roddenberry-esque spaceship control panel and zooming into space…some 12,000 years ago.)
Though the title mainly refers to the plot development that has Earth spinning into the path of a large meteor, and the impossible task Manny and his prehistoric zoo crew face trying to stop it, Armageddon-style, most of the actual collisions involve faces into asses and vice versa. You might say that Collision Course puts the scatology in eschatology, and if it gleefully fails at being a history lesson, at least it offers an energetic recess from reality.