Channel 4 – 27th March 2016 – 6:15pm
COLD CROSS BUNNY
Invigorating the stark ‘n’ samey white and blue landscape of the glacial era with a pack of perky prehistoric pals profuse with personality, 20th Century Fox’s frosty film franchise – which, scarily, started almost FIFTEEN years ago – has long been among my most frequent go-to’s when I’m in the laidback mood for chucklesome animated adventures.
Successfully juggling child-friendly japes and a warm moral core with parent-pleasing quips – mostly courtesy of hapless-but-amiable sloth Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) – I have been (quietly) anticipating Ice Age #5 ever since the latest box office smash, Continental Drift, landed back in 2012. Excitedly, Collision Course is heading our way this summer, but to tide us over, Channel 4 broadcast a brand new holiday special this Easter Sunday, in a UK terrestrial premiere.
Totalling a taut 30 minutes including advertisement break, The Great Egg-Scapade reunited the famous voice cast and followed the same format as 2011’s festive short A Mammoth Christmas, with Sid, Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) et al unintentionally starting the holiday traditions we uphold today.
Continental Drift’s raggedy rabbit pirate Squint (Seth Green, replacing Aziz Ansari) is still seething after the Ice Age-r’s sank his iceberg ship. Ranting to his lazy brother, Clint (Blake Anderson), Squint formulates a plan to get his rascally revenge, by sabotaging Sid’s “doomed” Egg Nursery venture. This leads to a nifty take on the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunts, with Sid’s precious cargo hidden with colourful camouflage painting.
Elsewhere – and for the first time yet – pesky possum pals Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) are given a weighty subplot by trying to plot the first ever April Fool’s Day prank, which works perfectly with their irritat– sorry, hyperactive, temperaments. Only patriarchal Manny’s mammoth brood, wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), are noticeably sidelined, granted all but a couple of lines of dialogue apiece at the start and close, implying character progression in a snapshot.
Flashing back to the events of the last movie, a raft of tongue-in-cheek, self-aware callbacks also help buoy this stand-alone Springtime special in the franchise’s ever-expanding continuity. This is easy-watching family fun, with Manny and Diego’s frustration at not being able to watch the “game” (bird’s wrestling outside their cave’s TV-shaped window) an ingenious highlight. However, unlike the wit-loaded films, I did find The Great Egg-Scapade’s concept funnier than Jim Hecht’s busy script.