Just as A Bug's Life was a computer-animated comedy inspired by Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, the funny and often enthralling Ice Age is a digital re-imagining of the Western Three Godfathers. The heroes of this unofficial remake (set 20,000 years ago, during the titular Paleolithic era) are a taciturn mastodon named Manfred (voiced by Ray Romano), an annoying sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo), and a duplicitous saber-toothed tiger, Diego (Denis Leary).
The unlikely team encounters a dying, human mother who relinquishes her chirpy toddler to the care of these critters. Hoping, against all odds, to return the little guy to his migrating tribe, Manfred and his associates need to establish trust among themselves, not an easy thing in a harsh world of predators, prey, and pushy glaciers. Audiences that have become accustomed to the rounded, polished, storybook look of Pixar's house brand of computer animation (Monsters, Inc. ) will find the blunt edges and chilly brilliance of Ice Age--evoking the harsh, dangerous environment of a frozen world--a wholly different, and equally pleasing, trip. Recommended for ages 4 and up. --Tom Keogh
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