PLOT Manny the mammoth and his prehistoric pals must stop an asteroid from ending life on Earth.
CAST Voices of Ray Romano, Simon Pegg, Queen Latifah
RATED PG (rude humor)
BOTTOM LINE Another infuriatingly unfunny and probably successful entry in the long-running animated franchise.
There’s a cost-benefit analysis to be done with “Ice Age: Collision Course,” the fifth film in the animated series from 20th Century Fox. For about $13 per ticket, you could take your children to see this hyperkinetic, highly irritating comedy full of loud noises, cheap jokes and flatulence. Then again, for $3.50 you could purchase a 2-pound box of Domino sugar and just pour it down your kids’ throats. The effect would be roughly the same and you’d save yourself a few bucks, not to mention 90 minutes of grief.
Easily the most maddening entry in this gallingly successful franchise, “Collision Course” is the first to break totally free of narrative coherence and logic. It begins, as always, with Scrat the prehistoric squirrel chasing an acorn, but this time Scrat discovers a UFO, pilots it into space and accidentally sends a meteor hurtling toward Earth. This weird catastrophe brings the bickering Mammoth family — Ray Romano as Manny, Queen Latifah as Ellie and Keke Palmer as their daughter, Peaches — closer together. What’s more, their old friend Buck the weasel (Simon Pegg) has a plan to stop the disaster. Can this motley crew avoid the same fate as the dinosaurs?
“Collision Course” seems to have been written using Mad Libs, with utterly random nouns and verbs driving the plot, action and humor. Buck adopts a pumpkin as his child. Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) finds a girlfriend using social media. There are cameos by a green rabbit, some unicorns, Neil deGrasse Tyson and a hippie-dippie animal called the Shangri-Llama (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). Amid all this chaos, Denis Leary and Jennifer Lopez, as the saber-tooth tigers Diego and Shira, barely register.
You might counter that “Collision Course” is in the tradition of great wacko comedies like the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup” or W.C. Fields’ “Million Dollar Legs.” There’s a difference, however, between inspired lunacy and mere grabbing at straws. The film’s moments of lukewarm poignancy, as little Peaches prepares to leave the nest and marry Julian (Adam Devine), further suggest that we are not in the presence of Dadaist brilliance.
That said, the “Ice Ace” franchise has earned nearly $3 billion with this very same mix of treacly sentiment and brain-dump humor. “Collision Course” will likely put it over the edge.