It’s been 14 years since we first met Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) in the original Ice Age. We’re now on our fifth—yes, fifth—installment in the computer-generated series, and with Ice Age: Collision Course, the novelty is starting to thaw.
The Ice Age series was never great cinema, but there’s always been a sense of heart under all the wisecracks and zany antics. Collision Course abandons that in favor of already stale pop culture references and laughless jokes. The latest installment kicks off, as always, with Scrat the bucktoothed squirrel, who accidentally uncovers an alien spaceship while searching for a place to bury his beloved acorn. Poor Scrat soon finds himself hurled into space, bouncing around the solar system like he’s in some sort of interstellar pinball machine, and before too long, he’s inadvertently sent an enormous asteroid hurtling toward his home planet.
Back on earth, our hero Manny, voiced by a returning Romano, is faced with a melodramatic plot pulled from any lazy sitcom of the last 30 years: Not only did he forget his wife’s anniversary, but his beloved daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) is engaged to an oafish mammoth named Julian (Adam DeVine), and the pair are planning to move away soon after the wedding. All this is soon overshadowed, however, by the enormous asteroid overhead, and Manny is forced to gather his massive herd in an attempt to stop the inevitable extinction.
Every Ice Age movie has added more and more prehistoric characters, and Collision Course is no exception, introducing Nick Offerman, Max Greenfield, and Stephanie Beatriz as a trio of sinister feathered dinosaurs and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as a flexible yogi llama. The result is a lifeless caper that’s overstuffed with one-dimensional characters and insipid gags. One or two sidekicks can work, but when you’re juggling a sassy sloth grandmother (Wanda Sykes), two grating opossum brothers (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck), a swashbuckling weasel (Simon Pegg), and frequent cameos from Neil deGrasse Tyson (a.k.a. Neil DeBuck Weasel), it’s hard to really care about any of them. Even Scrat’s madcap misfortunes feel dull the fifth time around. You’re not necessarily rooting for the asteroid, but you’re not exactly rooting against it, either. C-