Main cast: Ray Romano (Manfred), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Jack Black (Zeke), and Goran Višnjić (Soto)
Directors: Carlos Saldanha and Chris Wedge
This animated fantasy can also be retitled Three Gay Critters and a Baby. Not that the folks behind Ice Age come out and say that Manfred the Mammoth, Sid the Sloth, and Diego the Sabertooth are gay Cenozoic creatures, but seriously, the sexual tension is so thick, you can make a book pile out of it. This is far from an original tale, but it is oh so entertaining.
Manfred the Mammoth is a very lonely mammoth after he has lost his wife and kid to human hunters. Now, when everyone else is migrating south to avoid the worst of the ice age, he chooses to stay behind and sulk. But one day he rescues the mouthy and annoying Sid the Sloth (whose family has deliberately sneaked away while he was sleeping to leave him behind) from two very PO’ed rhino-like gay partners (really!), and Sid decides to stick around and be Manfred’s buddy. Whether Manfred likes it or not.
In the meantime, a pack of saber-tooth tigers (carnivores, and hence evil according to the cartoon rulebook) is planning an attack on a human settlement. Led by Soto, the sabertooth tigers plan to kidnap the baby of a human hunter as revenge on the deaths of their kinsmen. But Diego, who is charged to kidnap the baby, loses the baby. See, the mother of the baby grabs the brat and runs away in time. And since this is a cartoon, instead of running to her husband, she runs – let’s see, down a rocky path, up a hill, and down a waterfall. Smart. Needless to say, she bites the big one, but not before she deposits the brat to a stunned Manfred and Sid.
I must confess, the baby is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I want a soft toy of that baby. Are they making one? A plushie Manfred sounds fine too.
Sid wants to take care of it. Manfred just wants to get rid of it (remember, he’s a sulking loner). Diego, the sly one, offers his services to guide them all to the human settlement, all the while planning to lead them all into an ambush what seems like a zillion miles down volcanic pits, ice catacombs, snow-covered avalanche-prone mountain passes, and other paths filled with perils and pitfalls. You’d think it’ll be easier for those tigers to ambush those unsuspecting meat in the next valley or something.
But who cares about logic? This story is exciting. Wow-ee! Snowfalls! Avalanche! Near-deaths! Wow! But best of all – apart from that really cute as a button baby – is the increasing affection felt by the three lonely men. It’s so sweet. Watch as Sid tickle and tackle Diego. Watch as Manfred hmmphs at Diego and harrumphs at Sid even as he indulges them no end, that softie. And Diego, the traitor who finds his loyalty increasingly divided between his pack and his new boyfriends, is the most painful to watch. You can see it in his eyes: oh, the longing, the pain, the yearning! Okay, maybe that eye thing is a figment of my overly feverish imagination, but yo, the three critters? They’re so made in heaven, with banters that range from deliberately homoerotic to outright precious.
It’s spooky how easy I can see Ray Romano’s face morphing into Manfred. But John Leguizamo steals the show as the wise-cracking loser Sid who in the end becomes Carol Brady to the new ménage-a-prehistoria, and Denis Leary is pretty effective as Diego, Manfred’s new boy toy.
Oh yeah, this movie is also very manipulative. I cried, yes, at the climax as well as the ending. I also cried when the three happy boyfriends hug and make their way south, finally on a delayed migration to, no doubt, their happy ending of Cenozoic male/male love. Ah, true, beautiful love. This movie is so cute and it leaves me with a warm feeling in my heart, and as a plus, it’s a subversive little slashy cartoon, how naughty naughty.
When it comes to prime entertainment, Ice Age is hotter than hot. Two thumbs up!