Will Ellie, the talking animated woolly mammoth in Ice Age: The Meltdown, do for Queen Latifah what Dory, the talking animated blue fish in Finding Nemo, did for Ellen DeGeneres? It could happen. In providing the voice of a playful, full-figured gal with luscious eyelashes (maybe it’s Maybelline?) and curvaceous tusks who, long story short, happens to think she’s a possum, the Queen gracefully transfers her distinctive charms to one of the new principal characters who join the herd for this jaunty sequel to the popular 2002 CG family comedy. And her outgoing feminine touch sharpens the game of the boys around her — as well as the wits of the Ice Age writers.
Ellie’s arrival on the Pleistocene scene, along with her two rambunctious real-possum ”brothers” Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck), coincides with an emergency migration under way for the gloomy, self-aware woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), the snobby saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary), and the sloth with self-esteem problems, Sid (John Leguizamo): The Ice Age is ending, the glaciers are melting, and death by drowning is a distinct possibility. (Enlightened statement about global warming? Nah, this perky escapade says life is good once you get past a little water.)
Anyhow, just as in Michael Bay’s Armageddon, what’s a cataclysmic world event compared with personal growth? Until he meets Ellie, Manny mopes because he thinks he’s the last of his species (and even after his pals assure him that ”she completes you!” Manny’s a pessimist). Sid, looking for respect, gets more than he bargains for in some marvelous mayhem with a species of mini-sloths. Diego is forced to admit weakness. And the tenacious prehistoric squirrel-rat thing called Scrat who ran away with the first picture is back to steal the second, still obsessed with his nuts.
There will be time after Manny and Ellie rub fur to worry about the fragile planet. Ice Age: The Meltdown blithely looks on the bright side of life, amassing a screen full of vultures to sing and dance ”Food Glorious Food” and daring us not to get happy.