Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha. USA. 2002.

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Men: Are you constantly terrified at the thought of going out on that dreaded “first date?” Does the thought of having to make all the plans fill you with an overwhelming sense of doom? Do you react with the same level of social sophistication normally associated with pie fights? Well, perhaps you should go talk to Donovan.  Donovan is blessed with the rare and mysterious ability to talk to women. Donovan will actually share the cheesecake after dinner. AND, (most importantly) Donovan likes cartoons.  For our first date we went to see Ice Age.

Ice Age is the story of “the weirdest herd ever;” a mammoth named Manfred, a sloth named Sid, a sabre toothed tiger named Diego, and a baby that they are trying to see gets back to its’ father. While the rest of the animal kingdom is heading south for the winter, the non-conformist Manfred starts heading North. On the way he inadvertently rescues Sid from being trampled by rhinos, a baby from freezing to death on the side of a river, and a sabre toothed tiger from himself. 

The Ice Age cometh. All Rights Reserved.Ray Romano (TV’s Everybody loves Raymond) is the voice of Manfred the mammoth, and here is an ample demonstration of a radio actor struggling to break free of his below average sitcom binds. I’ve never really done more than politely chuckle at Everybody Loves Raymond. In Ice Age, Romano had me laughing so hard there were moments where I couldn’t speak. (Which does happen to take the edge off those awkward moments of silence that a first date happens to encompass.) 

Denis Leary (Judgement Night, Operation Dumbo Drop) is the voice of Diego the tiger. Leary’s comic timing is absolutely impeccable, and watching the facial expressions sported by Leary’s wildcat it’s all too obvious for those who are fans of his stand up routines that the animator’s did their research well. (All those of you out there who have seen both this movie and No Cure for Cancer will know what I’m talking about. The ticks and twitches are a dead match.)  Diego provides the moral to this cartoon: It’s not always a good thing to blindly follow the pack.

John Leguiziamo (William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, To Wong Foo, Thanks for everything; Julie Newmar) voices Sid the Sloth. Normally I find this man to be irritating to the extreme, but here, in cartoon form, he’s absolutely adorable. Next to Romano, I think he is the most underused voice actor out there. Leguiziamo has made an unfortunate habit of playing abrasive characters in movies like Spawn, and The Pest and then occasionally turns in a role like this; showcasing the fact that he is actually capable of not being the whiny guy that you see all too often in his movies. Very cute.

For all the parents out there who are considering taking their kids to see this newest animated feature, I would be cautious about taking anyone under the age of 8 to 10. There are some bits in this movie dealing with death, and animal attacks that younger children might find upsetting. But, for those older, it’s a rare family movie that adults and children will enjoy.

For all of the men out their who have a “first date” coming up this weekend, allow me to suggest Ice Age. It’s very cute. You’ll let your sensitive side show through by not insisting on going to see an Arnold-action-guns and violence-guy movie. You’ll have something to talk about afterwards. And, like Donovan, you may find yourself with another date to follow the first one. 

Jen Johnston
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