Cool Running

An ice-cool flick with some great characters.

Everybody’s heard of the Ice Age...that all that ice almost swallowed the earth...that more than a few species were frozen out of existence...yadda yadda. Now what if you found out that all that fuss was kicked up by a scrawny little guy called a scrat?

Blue Sky Animation Studios has pulled out of their technical icebox a computer animated film set in prehistoric times, introducing you to a mammoth, a sloth, a saber-toothed tiger, and so much snow, it makes you see white.

The scrat (half squirrel, half rat), is attempting to bury his lone acorn for the winter in the wall of a glacier. All his chipping and digging and scraping sets off a tremendous crack in the glacier wall, which just gets nastier by the second, until the huge mountain of ice come cascading down. The Ice Age? Well, so they say.

Now, all the animals have to migrate to warmer climes to save their skins, and so the exodus begins. In the middle of all this, an aggravating sloth, Sid (John Leguizamo), left behind by his family, finds himself in trouble with two rhinos, and is saved by a woolly mammoth, Manny (Ray Romano). Manny would have liked to leave Sid to his ill fate after he painfully realises his high harassment quotient and his unbridled verbal parade. Along their way, they chance upon a human child on a riverbank, and resolve to return him to his family. The three then set off in an unlikely troupe, only to encounter a saber-toothed tiger, Diego (Denis Leary), who offers to lead the way with his expert tracking senses. Sid and Manny, initially suspicious of Diego, grudgingly allow his company, but as the journey progresses, they form alliances and a camaraderie that sees them through some tough times ahead. 

Deriving much from animation of old in terms of overall effect, the film has a simple storyline, but is imbued with much wit and a well-elected cast that emphasizes their respective characters. Chris Wedge, winning director of "Bunny", another Blue Sky production, spins this out like a tale of yore, with pronounced visual drama, as evident in the sweeping snow-laden vistas that seem real in their depiction and lighting.

This article was first published on 10 May 2002.