Ice Age: Collision Course (Cinema Review)

U – 91mins – 2016 – 3D


 

EXTINCTION IMMINENT?

In his never-ending quest to secure his elusive acorn, single-focused sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat (Chris Wedge) scampers where no prehistoric rodent has scampered before, inadvertently setting in motion a cosmic calamity which means this might well be the final frontier for our furry frost-dwelling friends…

14 years, 5 feature films, 2 TV specials (including this Easter’s Great Egg-spcade), countless supplementary shorts and even a skating spectacular live show and through it all it’s still true to claim that Sid (John Sisters Leguizamo), Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and their “fro bros” have consistently remained true to themselves – even when the sequels’ storylines starting to strain credulity (Dawn of the Dinosaurs, I’m looking at you).

Despite this latest and most extreme  case of universe-building (or should that be flattening?) being the “dumb”-est (their words) and closest to shark-jumping yet, my previous statement still remains true for large stretches of Ice Age: Collision Course. Once again the screenwriters have perfectly balanced slapstick silliness with witty banter only adults will appreciate (“I’m bored of hashtags now!”).

It’s a shame, then, that a third act reveal that a community of new – and frankly rather goofy – meteor-squatting, eternally-youthful colourful critters threatens to thaw out my immense goodwill for this fast and furry-ous four-quel. Writer Michael J. Wilson’s penchant for wackiness, surplus of surreal “far out” spiritualism and stubborn insistence that rapid kineticism equals humour (it doesn’t) is as disappointingly tiresome as rubber-limbed let-down Chester V from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Mercifully, elsewhere a far more harmonious balance is struck between plot, character progression and pleasing pay-offs, with the ever-ballooning herd following one-eyed action weasel Buck (Simon Kill Me Three Times Pegg) on a seemingly impossible mission to divert a deadly meteor from wiping out all life as they know it. There’s a strong sway towards coupling up (must be an age thing), with even kid-of-the-group Peaches (Keke Palmer) engaged to clumsy cutesy Julian (Adam DeVine).

Retaining its heart with a touching family-affirming finale, Collision Course pulls itself back from the brim and confirms that character cut-backs, simplified storylines and less high-concept catalysts are the way forward for the extinction-evading Ice Age-rs. Long may they continue to roam the arctic plains.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars

Sisters – Extended (DVD Review)

15 – 118mins – 2015


 

PARTIES AND RECREATION

“What the fuckenheimer” have I just watched?! Seriously, for comedy heavyweights like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, this pathetic trash – written by SNL sketch writer Paula Pell and directed by Pitch Perfect helmer Jason Moore – is beneath them. If Sisters is symptomatic of the quality of film the comedienne comrades are content with, then both should return to their far superior television projects.

Before I completely lose my rag, I’ll break from my rant for a synopsis: maturing parents Dianne Wiest and James Brolin have sold their family home in Orlando and downsized, giving their two daughters – recently-divorced Maura (Amy Poehler) and hot-headed single mother Kate (Tina Fey) – just days to clean out their childhood bedrooms and say goodbye to their old nest.

Unreasonably outraged by this ‘injustice’, these two 40-something siblings act like utter juvenile “twots” in kicking up a fuss, dragging their heels with any actual work and instead wasting their time embarrassing themselves in front of actual adults, attempting to put off the new owners by dressing like morons and organising one last kick-ass house party to reclaim that “high school feeling.”

Insensitive and immature are two descriptions which instantly spring to mind – particularly as Kate is a mother to a (rightfully) frustrated teenager (Madison Davenport), yet acts less responsibly than she does! The senior Ellis’ have all but given up on their heedless offspring, whose personalities verge on ignorant. John Leguizamo slums it as an equally out-of-touch former school friend refusing to grow up, while wrestler John Cena somehow manages to keep a straight face as imposing drug dealer Pazuzu.

“We have no energy for this goddamn shit.”

And neither did I, which is why I had to watch it in two sittings. The first time I was so exasperated by the pathetic unfunniness unfurling before me, that I was ashamed by my movie choice and chose to finish it alone. It isn’t a quick film, either, suffering from a Jud Apatow-esque aversion to precision. The DVD Extended cut simply adds to the misery by making this a painful two hours slog.

I will confess that I was slightly less averse to these repulsive characters second time around, however any jot of goodwill I had accumulated towards the film come the end credits was well and truly snuffed out when I made the masochistic mistake of watching the deleted scenes.

Like the unruly film, there’s a lot of extraneous material here (including an entire excised subplot involving a bored couple looking to spice up their marriage… by sleeping with other people), but the most offensive of all involved Kate’s shockingly violent response to the rightfully-annoyed new owners of the destroyed house! Yes, it was left out of the final film, but just proves the intolerable mindset of those behind it – there are no real world consequences for these immature wretches we are supposed to cheer on! Urgh.

“When you’re sober it’s like why would anyone do this?!”

Exactly, Kate. It’s no exaggeration to say I detested this “comedy,” and Sisters joins A Very Murray Christmas, Grimsby and Special Correspondents among the worst films I have had the uncomfortable displeasure of sitting through recently. Curious how they are all (so-called) comedies…

Okay, rant over.

CR@B Verdict: 1 star

Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade (TV Review)

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.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars