Ice Age: Continental Drift
Scrat (the prehistoric squirrel) may seem like just a nut-loving nut. But he's actually quite a mover and shaker. In fact, when he falls to the earth's core he shakes things up so badly landmasses start breaking up and drifting apart.
Now, if you were into selling beachfront property, that might be a real plus. But real estate agents won't be showing up for a few millennia yet. And for Manny (the mammoth), the earth-shaking changes couldn't have come at a worse time. He's in the process of dealing with his teen daughter Peaches' rebellious choices when, "Bam!" everything starts rumbling and crumbling.
Worse yet, Manny, Diego (the sabre-toothed tiger), Sid (the goofy sloth) and Sid's oil slick of a Granny all find themselves separated from the rest of the community of animals and set adrift on an iceberg.
Did I say worse yet? I spoke too soon. A thumping and walloping storm begins to blast the group of reluctant seafarers. And then they meet … Captain Gutt.
This bullying ape-y pirate captain and his motley pirate crew have nothing less in mind than stealing everything Manny and his friends have. (And never mind that a handful of sopping-wet animals stranded on an iceberg haven't much to steal.) On top of that, the bad cap wants to turn them all into forced laborers, galley slaves, if you will. Or, more accurately, ice floe slaves. Their bright, bright future under Gutt's grimacing watch? Swabbing decks and peeling bananas as his whims demand.
Manny's not so inclined, thank you very much. He's determined to get back to his family. And at 15 tons, no buccaneer baboon is gonna stand in his way.
As Manny drifts away from his mate, Ellie, and his daughter on a chunk of ice, he yells back for them to find a path to safety. "No matter what," he calls to them, "I will find you!" And throughout the film, the importance of maintaining that firm family connection is reinforced over and over. Peaches lashes out at her dad with, "I wish you weren't my father!" But after their separation we immediately see how much she regrets those words.
Ellie quickly takes charge of the rest of their makeshift interspecies clan and starts moving all the mammoths, opossums, molehogs and various other critters to solid ground. Even Diego has fully bought in to the virtues of the family unit. He fights long and hard for his. And when he meets Capt. Gutt's comely first mate, Shira—a female sabre-tooth—he espouses the positives of his herd and invites her to join them. Shira eventually likes the sound of that. Why? Because she eventually learns that having power doesn't mean you have security. It certainly doesn't mean you have love.
Sid establishes some stronger familial ties, too, when his Granny shows up. She's been pretty much abandoned by the rest of the sloths because of her old-lady eccentricities, but that doesn't matter a whit to Sid. He draws her close and keeps her safe. And the film makes it plain that the elderly have plenty to contribute.
Sid tells Diego, "My mother always told me, 'Bad news is just good news in disguise.'" To which Diego wonders, "Was that before she abandoned you?" And Sid has to admit that it was. But he sticks to his positive attitude nonetheless.
Also: Peaches is swayed by peer pressure to turn away from a friend … and then learns the value of true friendship with time. When her little molehog pal Lewis is trapped on a high ledge, Peaches runs to his aid. "You don't leave a friend behind," she tells him. And Lewis takes that to heart. Later, when Peaches and her mom are threatened by mean old Gutt, Lewis bravely stands up for them, in spite of some very long odds.
Peaches coos over how "hot" another teenage mammoth is. During their seagoing adventure, the friends come upon shape-shifting siren-like monsters who call to them from the icy crags. Their magic makes Manny see his wife. Sid, though, finds himself mentally ogling a shapely female sloth. Granny sees a young, muscular hunk of a sloth who purrs, "The wrinklier the raisin, the sweeter the fruit." And Capt. Gutt is seduced by the come-hither beguiling of a slinky lady ape.
Because of the illusions, Sid and Diego end up accidentally kissing each other. A joke mentions peeping Toms.
Every single one of the characters is conked and bonked in one way or another, in swashbuckling conflicts with the pirate crew, or by the crumbling ice and earth of a shifting environment.
Capt. Gutt is the most frightening of the lot. He threatens to destroy everything Manny loves. And, in fact, he threatens several key characters with death. He uses a whip to keep his slaves in line. He points out that he got his name because of his razor-sharp claws, running those claws along a victim's furry stomach just to make his, uh, point clear. But we never see him actually slash anything other than ice and wood with those sharp appendages. He does battle with Manny on several occasions while wielding a sword-like weapon; Manny defends with his tusks and sheer bulk.
Manny is knocked unconscious with a huge ice chunk. Diego and Shira slash at each other with their claws. Animals fall from great heights (though everyone survives). Somebody is lured into a clamping-shut clamshell, and the apparent result is death. Granny fries a teen sloth's head with a magnifying glass (while he's trying to fry an ant with his magnifying glass). A paralyzed Sid has his head bounced repeatedly on the ground. After using his fearsome apendages to try to kill Sid, a giant crab has its leg snapped off in a huge storm at sea. And an oil slick from Granny's body appears to kill several fish when she hits the water for the first time in years. Scrat goes through his requisite falling, thumping, stretching and crushing routine as he continues to pursue his beloved acorn.
Sid's mom slaps his dad. Diego also gets slapped by a sloth.
Crude or Profane Language
Put-downs include "stupid," "loser," "weirdo," "freak," "screw-up," "pinhead," "blubber brain," "crazy old bat" and "bag of pudding." There's one exclamation each of "oh geez!" and "holy crab!" There's an unfinished "what the ...?" And "sons of sorry excuses ..." stands in for a rougher expression.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Manny worries about Peaches hanging with other teens at "the falls" and becoming "addicted to berries." When Sid eats a lotus berry, his entire body goes limp with paralysis.
Other Negative Elements
Gags get grimaces by highlighting "body odor," "boogers" and someone's "booty." Sid regurgitates prunes, and we see his siren temptress do something similar.
Lewis asks a pair of opossums how they manage to stay so happy, and they reply, "Because we're very, very stupid." Granny giggles about outliving everyone and "dancing" on their graves.
This fourth incarnation of Ice Age is pretty well titled. The continents drift apart and the heroes must find their way back home. And in some ways, when you compare Ice Age: Continental Drift with its predecessors (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ice Age), you can see that the whole series has experienced something of a continental drift over the years.
The anthropomorphized leads have lost most of their initial beasts-in-the-tundra edginess, replacing it with a much more laid back, let's-all-get-along-good-buddy feel. On top of that, the original angsty global-warming story underpinnings have been nudged aside in favor of some squirrelly tectonic-plate shenanigans. And the cast of secondary supporting characters has spread to the size of a small country.
But here's where the franchise hasn't drifted at all: It still trumpets the importance and rewards of family, self-sacrifice and teamwork with mammoth fervor. It adds to that a little parent/teen tug-and-pull that encourages communication and patience.
A few of the gags are a tad gross, the name-calling is a little annoying, and the cartoon violence is still in full force. So it's good that the scary side of Captain Gutt is lessened with just a smidge of musical theater, pie-in-the-yapper goofiness.