ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (Rated PG)
If you take your kids to the movies, you could do far worse than the fourth installment of “Ice Age.” You could have taken them to something wholly inappropriate, like “Savages” or the Katy Perry puff piece.
Actually, “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” nicely done in 3D, while it treads little new ground, is amusing and entertaining in a primitive fashion fitting for its prehistoric times.
“Ice Age 4” explains that Scrat the hyperactive squirrel, forever chasing the elusive acorn, is responsible for the continental breakup, as his pursuit takes him to the earth’s molten core.
This cartoon franchise succeeds or not, depending on your point of view, in rehashing the familiar themes of camaraderie and fidelity that bind a misfit bunch of mammals acting out the equivalent of a Fifties’ sitcom.
Leading the pack is the clueless woolly mammoth Manny (voiced by Ray Romano). He and wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) cope with mildly rebellious teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), who’s thinking about the cute boy who has all the wit and charm of a drug-addled surfer.
Manny’s closest friends are Diego (Denis Leary), the grouchy saber-toothed tiger and Sid (John Leguizamo), the dopey sloth who provides immediate comic relief.
A sudden continental drift separates Manny, Diego and Sid from their friends and family members. Cast adrift on an ice floe, they try to figure a way home, a task made more complicated by less benevolent creatures.
Introduced to an element of danger and intrigue, the “Ice Age” pals discover they are not alone in being stranded on the high seas with land nowhere in sight.
A nasty orangutan named Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), who flies a skunk from his mast to represent a pirate flag, is roaming the ocean with a mangy crew of thugs in search of illicit treasure.
One member of the pirate crew gets noticed by the crusty Diego. The slinky, silver-haired tigress named Shira (Jennifer Lopez), though initially hostile, proves to be a promising love interest for the bachelor tiger.
The slothful, doltish Sid provides enough laughs on his own. But this time, his wacky granny (Wandy Sykes), abandoned by other family members for constantly talking a nasty game, proves to be an amusing addition to the adventure at sea.
A meaningful plot and coherent story are not prerequisites for enjoyment of this lighthearted comedy. For good measure, homage to “Braveheart” is rendered an essential part of an uprising against the scurvy pirates.
Aside from great use of the 3D device, “Ice Age: Continental Drift” allows the greatest pleasure in the often absurd banter between the characters, with the best lines going to the sloths Sid and Granny and a dim-witted walrus (Nick Frost) on the pirate crew.
Moving at a fast pace, with a running time of 87 minutes, everything stays afloat in “Ice Age,” much like the unsinkable pirate iceberg. This franchise will continue to drift blissfully along to success as family-friendly entertainment.
DVD RELEASE UPDATE
Some of the best television is occurring on the cable networks, from “Mad Men” on AMC to “Burn Notice” on USA to even several shows on the TNT network.
One of the fun series of cable’s last season was the TNT series “Franklin & Bash,” an offbeat legal drama about the escapades of two young, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants street lawyers.
Now in DVD release, “Franklin & Bash: The Complete First Season” captures the adventures of Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), the confident ladies’ man with a knack for connecting with the jury, and Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer), his quick-witted best friend.
The unconventional duo, newly recruited by a legendary button-down law firm run by Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell), shakes up the establishment with their quirky courtroom approach to every new case.
Operating as a team, Franklin and Bash are good lawyers, despite their wild antics, shocking tactics and irregular courtroom theatrics.
The three-disc DVD set, with all 10 episodes, includes many bonus features, including a blooper reel, behind-the-scenes specials, and a man cave tour of the Franklin and Bash bachelor pad/home office.
This amusing, smart series has already started its second season, so hurry now to get “Franklin & Bash: The Complete First Season” and catch up on the fun.
Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.