No matter how removed it is from the real world, the Ice Age series, like most big Hollywood animation movies, doesn’t stop itself from indulging in pop-culture references. We see popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, in the form of a weasel, inside Buck the weasel’s head, providing explanations that will help him save the world from impending environmental disasters. Later in the film, when Buck says, “An asteroid is coming," it is not impossible to wonder if it is an ironic nod to the most famous line from the Game of Thrones—“Winter is coming."

This refusal to take itself seriously has been the guiding spirit of the franchise, which began with 2002’s Ice Age, where we were introduced to Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger. Over the next three films, the group expanded as these characters married, fell in love and found long-lost family. In Collision Course, we have Manny (Ray Romano), Ellie (Queen Latifah), their daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), and her boyfriend. There’s Sid (John Leguizamo) and his ancient granny (Wanda Sykes). Diego (Denis Leary) has a partner in Shira (Jennifer Lopez). Much of the time in Collision Course is spent on the family dynamics: like Peaches’ boyfriend trying to win over Manny, or a son who is finally able to stand up to his father (the dinosaur family).

These are universal themes that serve the film’s family audience well. Yet it’s pretty clear that the series is now recycling itself. The threat is different but the consequence is the same—the end of the Ice Age, which will lead to the extinction of the species of these characters we have grown to care about. Of course, there are colourful new characters—a bunch of them spring out of a wonderland called Geotopia, a habitat that has grown out of a dormant asteroid.

Collision Course never really soars. It doesn’t show any inventiveness, apart from the set pieces involving Scrat the squirrel (Chris Wedge) and his acorn. Five movies later, it remains the only track that is still as amusing as it was the first time; it has the absurd entertainment value of Tom And Jerry cartoons. The makers have produced short movies starring Scrat, but they should perhaps consider giving him his own feature-length film. At the moment, that seems like a more entertaining prospect than the main franchise.

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