I have fond memories of the “Ice Age” movies as a 2000s kid and animation enthusiast. I’ll never forget Scrat (Chris Wedge, “Chris Wedge”) running around chasing an acorn or Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo, “Encanto”) slipping and sliding on the ice. The fun dynamic of the original cast — Sid, Manny (Ray Romano, “Everybody Loves Raymond”), Diego (Denis Leary, “The Amazing Spider-Man”) and Ellie (Queen Latifah, “Last Holiday”) — is what made the series so entertaining.
“The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild” follows Crash (Vincent Tong, “Kong: King of the Apes”) and Eddie (Aaron Harris, “Clearing the Eye”), two trouble-making opossums, as they discover their independence. After Manny tells them they’ll never make it on their own, the two sneak out in the middle of the night to prove him wrong. They enter the Lost World, where dinosaurs live among mammals, including a tough yet impulsive weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg, “Inheritance”). While there, they face evil dinosaur Orson (Utkarsh Ambudkar, “Free Guy”) who wants to rule the Lost World. Buck must work with Crash and Eddie to stop Orson from taking over and maintain the peace between the dinosaurs and mammals he worked hard to build years ago.
My favorite scenes were the ones featuring the original cast; however, Sid, Manny, Diego and Ellie are all voiced by different actors and actresses — Jake Green (“The Troubles”), Sean Kenin (“The Smurfs”), Skyler Stone (“House Broken”) and Dominique Jennings (“Spawn”), respectively. I could tell something was slightly off while watching, and I became distracted by the dialogue. Although I appreciated the fact that these original characters were included in the new addition to the series, it was difficult to ignore that they weren’t entirely the same. Plus, the scenes involving this group were few and far between, disappointing those who love the original series and were looking forward to another film.
However, “The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild” isn’t about the original cast. It’s about Crash and Eddie’s journey toward independence from their sister Ellie, who’s always “smothering (them) with reasonable advice.” I accept that the movie isn’t about the original gang, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling like this latest installment was a forced addition to the series in a last-ditch attempt to make money off the franchise. Without any of the previous cast returning, there’s really not much to look forward to.
These missing voices are definitely distracting, and the plot itself isn’t exactly captivating. There’s not much explanation regarding the Lost World or how it exists below Earth’s surface. The film also fails to show the original cast of characters’s worry regarding the lost pair of opossums. While Ellie expresses concern once she realizes they’re missing, there aren’t many scenes where we see the crew actively searching for them. Without these search scenes, the stakes of the film feel insignificant and emotionless.
It feels like the franchise went in a different direction with “The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild,” deciding to focus explicitly on pleasing their target audience of children instead of maintaining the humor that resonated with all ages in the previous films. Most of the conflict — saving the Lost World from Orson — is resolved by a zorilla named Zee (Justina Machado, “Switched Before Birth”) who uses the powerful gas she releases to knock out the evil creatures. It’s the painfully simple humor throughout that makes the newest installment purely a kid’s movie.
I’m a little disappointed in “The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild” for its change in cast and elementary plot, but what upset me the most was figuring out that the film, although part of the “Ice Age” series, wasn’t made for the same audience that followed the franchise for years. I found myself distracted with the new voices while simultaneously wanting more from those original characters. Still, I can see children enjoying the film for the animation and relatable life lessons. Parents and older siblings in the room, however, will most likely lose interest quickly.
Daily Arts Writer Laura Millar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.