Our Drew looks into what happened with one of the world’s most beloved animated franchises…
So for the last several months my girlfriend and I have been chain-watching popular 2000s and 2010s movie franchises. Yknow, Shrek, Night at the Museum, Twilight, so on. I don’t know why, I had a weird impulse back in November to watch every YA dystopia film and after the Divergent franchise straight up didn’t finish, we kept adding to the list probably in some desperate bid for closure. It doesn’t feel like healthy behaviour. Look forward to this being all the content for the next few months by the way.
One that came up was Ice Age, and it really stood out to me. Most of these franchises started out strong, or at least iconic, and ended up either boring or actively bad. There were a couple of exceptions – Madagascar 1 is about as entertaining as a kidney stone, but Madagascar 2? If it bought me dinner, I’d fuck it.
Ice Age though. The Ice Age franchise got real weird. You may already know that cause it’s been like 6 years since the last one came out. But I didn’t know because I stopped watching them properly after the second one came out, and I got bored about 20 minutes into the third. But they made five of these things, and if you tracked the quality of the films on a graph it’d go a bit like this – it starts strong up here, then goes way down for the second, slight improvement for the third, stays steady for the fourth, then the fifth one draws a dick on the graph and pulls it into another dimension. It’s kind of impressive in its own right, but not very helpful for qualitative comparison.
The weirdness starts sooner though, the fifth one is just the mountaintop. And I can’t live with this knowledge in my brain. I can’t tell a friend about it because I estimate it would take about twenty minutes, and they probably wouldn’t be my friend by the end of that. So I’ve collected all of the things together into a couple of main sections, and I’m gonna put it on the internet instead. Again, probably not healthy behaviour.
Number 1, Manny
Manny starts off as the most sympathetic character in the movies – Diego’s initially down with killing a baby, and maybe that’s because of peer pressure, but at a certain point you should just have the strength of character to reject the clique. Sid’s family abandoned him in the migration but Sid is a furry bag of trash so no judgement from me. Manny meanwhile is sunken in a deep dark misanthropic depression since his wife and child were slaughtered by hunters, and he’s gone all Shreky. He doesn’t want anything to do with anyone, and he closely guards his emotions – only his eyes convey the deep well of sadness within him.
By the time of movie 5, Manny has turned into an emotionally manipulative giggling psychopath who seems to resent the second chance at a family that he spent years begging for. About twenty years of events have brought the guy out of his shell a bit – by the way, yes, I was surprised to learn that 16 years pass between the third and fourth film, with several years between the rest, making each of the characters something like 60 years old. I don’t care enough to look up the lifespans of mammoths, sloths and sabretooth tigers, it just seems weird to me.
But anyway, Manny’s embraced his found family of Sid and Diego, found out that he isn’t the last mammoth, fallen in love with Ellie, had another kid called Peaches, and he met Santa. It’s fair that this’ll all conspire to make him more emotionally open and confident, but him and Ellie conspiring to destroy Peaches’ marriage so they can have her all to themselves is a touch, just a touch too far. He’s doing stuff like forgetting his anniversary, bitching about women to his boys, and being overly protective of his daughter. He basically turned into a Tim Allen 90s sitcom character.
By the way, why is parental angst the go-to subject for animated franchises? I guess they’re trying to appeal to the parents taking their kids to the cinema, or maybe the now adults who had been kids when the first films came out – it’s probably that, I just hate it. Anyway, Manny’s grumpiness is originally justified due to his horrific backstory, but for real he’s over it by the second movie so for the rest of the franchise he’s just an asshole. He’s such an asshole he gave Santa the idea for the naughty list, which is impressive and douchey in equal measure.
As a side note, and this might just be me, but I thought the Ice Age 2 plot with Ellie was going to go in a completely different direction. So there’s this movie called Oldboy that I’m going to spoil the shit out of so skip to this time if you don’t want that – it’s one of the best ever made so I highly encourage you to go watch it first. Ok? They gone? Thank god for that, who even were those guys, I didn’t invite them, did you?
Anyway in Oldboy, this guy gets kidnapped and locked in a room for 15 years. While there his wife is murdered and his 4-year-old daughter goes missing. When he finally gets out, he goes on a big ol revenge quest, and along the way he has sex with this sushi chef. Skipping past many things, it turns out the sushi chef is his daughter and he’d kinda been set up to sleep with her in an elaborate revenge plot. It’s a very strange movie.
So here I was in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, and we’ve got Manny, purportedly the last of his species. Along comes Ellie, a mammoth who acts much younger than Manny. And I’m sat there thinking, they never actually showed for definite what happened to Manny’s family in the animated cave drawing, and he doesn’t say, “I watched them get killed”. From the perspective of the other guys he just stared at a wall for a bit and they jumped to conclusions. Obviously it’s because it’s for kids, we’re not gonna jump cut to a bunch of stick figures carving mammoth veal to close the case, but in my mind, that left the door open for a miraculous survival.
So I thought that Ellie was Manny’s daughter. It’s even further hammered home when in a flashback, we see Ellie, at the same age as Manny’s child, wandering around separated from her family. If she were the kid, it’s no wonder she wouldn’t go looking for them since she assumed they were dead like Manny did. I was certain this was where it was going. But then Manny starts hitting on Ellie. And rather than dismissing my original idea, my screwed up lil brain immediately thinks, “oh no they’re gonna Oldboy this shit”. It was such a visceral assumption that it stayed with me for the rest of the film, and I can’t say I really remember much of the climax. A silver lining is that it kind of prepared me for the weirdness to come.
As a brief tangent on the subject of Manny, mammoths got real nimble over the course of the series. Sure, animation got better over the years, and Blue Sky Studios’ budget undoubtedly increased, so they could have crazier set pieces, but it’s still real weird. Manny starts out as this slow, lumbering guy; he has difficulty turning; the fact that he doesn’t have digits is a genuine hindrance. By the end of the series, mammoths are like breakdancing and doing kung fu. Not to mention the fine ice carvings Manny pulls off for Peaches’ mobile. Yes it’s an animated movie about anthropomorphic animals so they get more of a free pass on suspension of disbelief, I don’t have a problem with it in principle. It’s just weird because they started in a place that was pretty grounded in the laws of physics, and ended in a much stranger place of non-reality. This is a theme that’ll come up a lot.
Number 2, Flintstoning
Flintstoning is what I’m calling that thing animated films do, where they’ll mimic modern day technology or features of suburban American life in an attempt at comedy, which the Flintstones was basically predicated on.
Now there’s obviously nothing wrong with Flintstoning in concept; I mean, the Flintstones were great, and Shrek 2 is a fantastic example of how you can update the concept for the 21st century. My problem with it is that Flintstoning is that it it’s a clear sign of creative bankruptcy in an animated franchise, and normally involves the regression of characters into gender stereotypes.
For instance, there’s practically no Flintstoning in the first two Ice Ages, but as the franchise goes on, it occurs with increasing frequency. In anticipation of Peaches’ birth in Dawn of the Dinoasaurs, Manny has defaulted to that new father freaking out cliché, and built a human-style play area, complete with rope swing and mobile made of delicate mammoth-shaped ice sculptures. Which he made with his tiny, precise mammoth fingers and opposable thumbs.
In Collision Course, Manny and Diego are hanging out at a makeshift cocktail bar, bitching about women and how they don’t understand them, and then he forgets his anniversary with Ellie. The Great Egg-Scapade is probably the worst culprit of it (yes I watched The Great Egg-Scapade, I don’t need your judgement) with the men dodging their families by watching a sports game, the Hawks vs the Bears, and the rabbits are playing an imitation of video games with rocks.
I just don’t understand – what’s the joke here? That’s a thing that exists in our world but wouldn’t typically be a thing that animals would do. Lol? This one just makes me mad so I’m gonna move on.
Number 3, Horniness
At its core, Ice Age is a really horny franchise. While it is primarily about family, specifically dealing with the separation of traditional family and embracing a found family, every character’s primary motivation is trying to get laid. When they successfully obtain a partner, their motivation becomes either having children or dealing with children, or their arc is essentially over.
Diego is probably the worst culprit of it. In the first movie starts off motivated by his loyalty to the pack and probably hunger, and over the course of the journey grows to love his new herd and defend them. In the second one, Diego gets a brief arc about conquering his fear of water but that’s done and dusted so quickly. In the third one, again they introduce an arc – that Diego is losing his hunting edge by hanging out with the herbivores. This is never brought up again, and he just kind of gets over it later.
In movie 4 though, we get a girrrrl tiger, Shira. And suddenly Diego has a plot. The plot is just, ‘hey come hang out with us so we can bang’, but it is a plot. The fifth movie has Diego and Shira wanting to have kids, but frustrated but kids find them scary. They don’t assume that a tiger cub wouldn’t find its tiger parents scary. Anyway, by the end of the film, all the kids now like them because they saved the Earth, but they don’t have a kid of their own. Like Diego’s fear of water, it’s a bit of a non-arc where a conflict is introduced, forgotten for the majority of the film, then resolved in an instant.
Diego really feels like an afterthought in the series, and I’m pretty sure that’s because he was supposed to die at the end of the first one. They decided that he should live after all the kids in the test audience started crying, and they clearly never knew what else to do with him. Manny gets your classic family man conflicts, and Sid gets so much screentime on complete bullshit, but while Diego gets loads of lines, he has no individual motivation. Until he gets a chance to fuck. Then that’s the arc from now on. Because that’s the only one they can think to give him.
As you might have guessed, the horniness ramps up as the series progresses. Take Sid for instance – he is the living embodiment of blue balls. In Ice Age 1 he’s trying to use the kid to get with a couple of lady sloths. In Ice Age 2 he’s doing the same thing with other animal children, and he gets tempted by the sirens in Continental Drift. Collision Course is like 40% Sid trying to find a mate.
Come to think of it, Collision Course is the pinnacle of horny for everyone. There’s a group of hippie animals called the Geotopians that’ve been living in a magic space rock that’s keeping them eternally youthful because magnets (put a pin in it, we’ll get to it later (we’re not gonna get to it later)). Sid of course breaks it so they all rapidly age. Granny was so down to fuck this bunny, but she’s turned off when he becomes old. I hate Granny purely because the phrase “the wrinklier the raisin, the sweeter the fruit” now takes up space in my brain.
Jump to the end of the movie, and a piece of magic space rock falls into a hot spring, creating the Foundation of Youth. Granny decides to stay with them so she can be young again and fuck the bunny. I got so scared this was gonna end like Sausage Party in a massive interspecies orgy. It was this close.
Further research led to the realisation that it’s Blue Sky Studios that are the horny ones. Deleted scenes and interviews reveal that there were dozens more sex jokes cut out the first film to make it more suitable for kids, showing that horniness was the primary motivation and they had to be curbed. There’s also a Robots short film called Aunt Fanny’s Tour of Booty. Couldn’t tell you whether Aunt Fanny fucks a bunch of machines. I’m not gonna watch it.
Number 4, Scrat, The Eternal: Destroyer of Worlds and Breaker of Continents
Let’s be real, Scrat is the entire reason for the success of these movies. I think the first Ice Age is a solid, really enjoyable film but it definitely walked a path that had already been laid down by Shrek. It followed the line better than Madagascar, but it was still following rather than pioneering. Their one contribution to the scene was the Looney Tunes-esque vignettes of Scrat the arctic squirrel and his acorn. These segments had nothing to do with the central story, and Scrat rarely crossed paths with the heroes, but they’re by far the most memorable parts of the film. The animation is fast, punchy, and surprising, the sound effects are timed perfectly, especially Scrat’s screams, and there’s an insane amount of escalation to each scenario. Scrat pushes the same button that the Penguins of Madagascar and the Minions went on to push.
Scrat bits actually start pretty wild, with him causing two avalanches at the start of the first film, and later causing a volcano eruption when he defrosts in the modern day. It’s actually a step down when all he really does in the second one is cause a flood by breaking the ice wall ringing the valley, but to be fair the place was already flooding so he had a limited impact with that. In his bit at the end of the film, he dies and goes to heaven, where God is an acorn and all the angels are acorns, before he’s resuscitated by Sid. So in the Ice Age universe, heaven exists and is either an acorn paradise, or a subjective paradise for each person. But God is a big acorn, so does Scrat want to eat God?
At some point after the second film, in the short film No Time For Nuts, Scrat discovers a time machine and travels to the land of Arthurian legend with cannons for some reason, a Roman colosseum, the sinking of the Titanic, the Cretaceous period, a 70s disco hall, the building of the Great Wall of China, what I suppose is the modern-day Tower of London, the French Revolution, Ben Franklin’s kite experiment, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, what appears to be the frontier West, Renaissance Italy, the Doctor Who title sequence, and finally the far future where oak trees are extinct. However, this isn’t the end of Scrat’s story, because this is just a single Scrat timeline – there are actually two further Scrat’s existing on the Ice Age movie timeline. Presumably one of those Scrats is the one that ends up frozen and revived in the modern day Pacific ocean. Where’s the other one? Who can say.
The third film has the most low-key Scrat segments. He mostly just fights over the acorn with the lady Scrat, for the first time failing to cause significant ecological damage. In the fourth film Scrat falls into the Earth’s core, shatters Pangaea into the modern continents, and creates the Sphinx, the Pyramids, and Mount Rushmore. Making up for lost time presumably. Scrat had already possessed a kind of cartoonish immortality but it’s from here on that he takes on truly godlike powers.
I can only guess that the creators of Ice Age sensed that a fourth film in an animated franchise is going to start suffering from fatigue, and recognising that Scrat is the most marketable part of Ice Age, they just went whole hog on making him as omnipotent as possible. Trouble is it brought diminishing returns every time. Ice Age kept going back in time showing that the history of the solar system was actually engineered by Scrat. He’s like the Eternals but stupider. I spat my drink out when he ran on the Earth’s core like a treadmill, and then just kept staring with my mouth open, occasionally going “whaaat?”
This was actually foreshadowed in the short film, Gone Nutty, where Scrat finds a humongous pre-historic hollow tree trunk full of acorns. Is this where flat earthers got the idea of ancient giant trees from? It does seem at about their intellectual level. Anyway he falls to earth in a giant acorn asteroid, and once again, breaks the world into the continents as we know it. Presumably this is one of the alternate timeline Scrats established in No Time For Nuts. No Time For Nuts sounds like a James Bond porn parody.
Later on in the fourth film, he finds a map to Scratlantis, and I was hooked. I realised I’d forgotten half of the events of Ice Age 4 after it ended because I was mentally fast forwarding to developments in Scrat’s journey. He eventually finds Scratlantis, a squirrel utopia where there are seemingly infinite acorns but they also don’t really care about acorns. They try to warn him against it, but Scrat yanks this giant acorn out the ground, which turns out to be a plug that drains the ocean, destroying Scratlantis and creating Death Valley.
Finally in Ice Age 5, Scrat finds the spaceship from Ice Age 1 which was such a god-tier callback. He flies it into space, knocking the Moon into the planets in our solar system which are arranged like a snooker game, and knocks them into their orbit. That includes slotting Saturn into its own rings, and forming the constellations by hitting a bunch of stars. Lastly, he creates the Sun, which is strange given that it’s already existed all this time, and sends an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, kickstarting the plot. The rest of the Scrat segments concern him dicking around on the spaceship, until he causes an apocalypse on Mars.
Scrat terrifies and inspires me in equal measure. On the one hand, he represents the power a single individual has to change the world. On the other hand, he represents the power a single individual has to change the world.
So were they just messing around with these Scrat segments, or is there deeper meaning to this? Scrat’s fatal flaw is his desire for acorn – it only brings him pain and suffering, and he’s continually denied it. His own greed is usually his downfall, as in the numerous instances he holds one acorn, but abandons it in pursuit of many, such as in A Mammoth Christmas, or Gone Nutty. But what is he really chasing, and why must it be denied to him? Is Scrat not the most poignant metaphor for man’s seemingly Sisyphean strive for fulfilment and meaning?
In the first film, Scrat is a base animal, chasing his earthly desire without thought for the consequences, and he is punished. In the second, Scrat turns to religion, seeking the same desires beyond the physical world, and he is still punished. In the third, he abandons his desires for love, and for a time he is happy and unpunished. But the pull of the acorn proves too much for him to resist, and he turns his back on love. And he is punished. In the fourth, Scrat reshapes the world in a way that pleases him. Perhaps he believes that it’s his environment denying him his reward. He ascends to a state of enlightenment, having realised that the acorn was the only thing holding him back from peace. But once again, he cannot resist the allure of the acorn, and he is punished. Not only is he punished, but he’s caused devastation and suffering amongst his own species and the planet as a whole. Having failed to interrogate himself and understand his own desires for the acorn, he travels the stars, and we are reduced to the core struggle: Scrat and his acorn, alone in space. And Scrat is punished. He has brought annihilation to entire worlds, but he still hasn’t confronted the fact that it’s his pursuit of the acorn that brings about annihilation. Santa Claus tried to teach him this lesson by gifting him an acorn matryoshka doll, showing him that it’s acorns all the way down, and he’ll never find what he seeks. But Scrat fails to understand this lesson. And he is punished.
Scrat searches everywhere – he delves to the core of the earth, he ascends to the stars, he travels through time itself, and the depths of his own heart – but he is never given the answers he seeks. The acorn is everything that hurts us, everything that we lack the ability to explain, but we strive for it nonetheless. The acorn is love. The acorn is God. We are Scrat. But the fake acorn tree in the future betrays the truth: Love is an illusion. God is dead. And we are alone. And Scrat screams.
Number 5, Buck, The Herald of Scrat
If Scrat is the Galactus of the Ice Age universe, Buck is the Silver Surfer. When he turns up everything gets a hell of a lot weirder, and I know that correlation isn’t causation, but the weirdness surrounds him like an aura and it infects everyone around him.
Buck is also the best and funniest character in Ice Age. His sense of humour is completely removed from the rest of the franchise, which is honestly so welcome. Once Ellie stops thinking she’s a possum, she’s given zero comedy, and Crash and Eddie are Crash and Eddie. Buck the perfect combination of 50% nonsense and 50% genius. The animators must have had a whale of a time making him, because he’s practically a liquid. They’re constantly crash zooming into his doom-filled face as he pulls an insane expression.
Everything he does is so effortless but insane, and like I said, he’s the Herald. Buck is the first to really break the laws of physics in these movies. Everything else is unlikely but standard for animation. And after this point nothing resembles anything close to sense.
In Dawn of the Dinosaurs, he’s essentially a combination of the colonial-English-hunter-who-knows-the-jungle archetype, and the guy-who’s-been-lost-in-the-wild-and-gone-a-little-mad archetype. He saves the Herd, helps them survive the dinosaur world, and they say their goodbyes. Buck basically isn’t in Continental Drift, which is probably why it’s so forgettable, but he comes back in full force in Collision Course, opening with a musical number about how great he is. The Ice Age movies are not musicals. This is the only time it’ll happen.
It’s not actually, I got this bit wrong – Captain Gutt and his crew actually sing a sea shanty in the fourth film about themselves, but sea shanties are an actual thing sailors would do in the world, so I’m still maintaining it’s weird for Buck to sing like this.
He then finds a hidden temple marked with acorn symbols, implying that it belongs to an ancient Scrat civilisation (put a pin in it we’re gonna get to it (we’re not gonna get to it)), and activates a pillar that prophesises the coming meteorite. With this knowledge, he leads the Herd to the place past meteorites have hit so they can figure out why they all go there.
Then shit hits the fan when he mind-melds with the possums, taking them into the Construct. In my marathon of the franchise, I’ll admit I was a little drunk at this point, so I fully assumed I had missed something here, anything. But no, it’s as sudden as that – Buck is a psychic.
We then meet Neil deBuck Weasel (voiced by deGrasse Tyson of course), Pythagoras Buck, and Dalek Buck who explain ferro-magnetism and the iron-content of the meteorites. Presumably Buck is like Legion and possesses multitudes of personalities within his fragmented, extremely powerful psychic mind, and these are just the two most useful aspects to draw on in that present moment.
Buck then pulls a Moses and seemingly parts the sea, though it was actually Scrat pulling the Moon into Earth’s orbit, and once again, Buck demonstrates knowledge of concepts beyond any of them, by describing an electrical storm and static electricity. Buck then adopts a pumpkin, naming her Bronwyn and raising her as his child, leading to one of the strangest dick jokes I’ve ever seen.
And honestly, who are we to say that the pumpkin isn’t a sentient? Buck has clearly demonstrated powers beyond our ability, and knowledge of the workings of the universe hundreds of thousands of years before humans would reach the same point. It’s at this point you just start accepting, rather than questioning. Buck warrants an explanation, but you won’t get one.
Number 6, Dark Things
On occasion, Ice Age got a little bit dark. Not in the way that Scrat inevitably consumes the universe, or that Buck has psychic power over other sentients. Somehow darker.
Like this one armadillo-turtle thing, I believe his name is Stu. He’s swimming around in Ice Age 2 when he gets devoured by the two defrosted Mesozoic predators. Immediately after his death, Fast Tony tries to hawk his carapace as a mobile home for smaller animals. He then uses it as a stool, and later a raft, making a joke about Stu’s death.
Presumably he managed to sell it to the Herd though, because we open Ice Age 3 with Manny using the shell as a bucket. Then in The Great Egg-Scapade, Sid is using the shell as a cot for the eggs, which is probably the darkest use. Since its earliest days of civilization, humanity has been using animal parts like horns for drinking utensils, and furs for clothes. But notably it wasn’t standard to wear human skin as clothes, or human skulls as cups. That’s some Game of Thrones shit. That seems to be the last of Stu, though the mammoths are also seen playing hockey with a different species’ shell in Collision Course so I don’t know, maybe they just hate turtle-like creatures.
The animal kingdom is a brutal, amoral place. Animated kids movies are usually… not that. So if you want to make an animated kids movie about the animal kingdom, you need to skirt around some things. This is just accepted. But there’s something about Ice Age’s weirdly adult tone that calls into question how exactly their society works.
For instance, who does Diego eat? I want to emphasise this – who, not what. Who does Diego eat? Everyone else in the Herd is a herbivore, and all their friends are herbivores, so it’s just Diego who craves flesh. He definitely hasn’t gone vegetarian, because he’s seen hunting a gazelle in the beginning of the third film. My question is, how does Diego look the gazelle in the eye after this? And why haven’t the more aggressive herbivores likes the rhinos ganged up on him as a threat to their existence.
My theory is that it’s a form of social sacrifice, like the Hunger Games. Diego, and later Shira, serves as a convenient means for the other herbivores to dispose of unwanted elements of their group, whilst ensuring that he doesn’t feel the urge to eat the rest. There’s already this kind of parents’ association in Ice Age society and they are extremely judgemental. You haven’t maintained your den in an aesthetically pleasing way? They sic Diego on you. They don’t like the way you’re raising your brood? Diego feeds.
Number 7, Other
There were some side thoughts I had that I couldn’t put anywhere else but I still feel the need to mention them. Like how if I had a nickel for every time a sloth army tried to kill the gang but later befriended them, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird it happened twice. Or this moment where Granny almost burrows out of a dinosaur’s asshole.
Or maybe the cast list for the movies which confused me more and more as we went along. The two possum fucks are Country Mac and the non-pedo half of Drake & Josh. The cool mammoths are Drake and Nicki Minaj. You get cameos from Will Arnett, Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Bill Hader, Joey King, Kristen Wiig, Jeremy Renner, Patrick Stewart, Rebel Wilson yadda yadda. And of course, OF COURSE Alan Tudyk is a bunch of side voice roles. No one had gamed voice acting as successfully as Alan Tudyk.
I was trying to think of why I was fixating so much on this, and I think I blame advertising for modern animated movies. Because after they do their whole animated kids movie trailer thing, with an intro to the plot, a bunch of fart jokes, lots of footage of the cute side characters, some motivational pop song, and some cringy real world thing like the characters doing a Fortnite dance, they then flash up a fucking Star Wars opening crawl’s worth of actor credits. And I’m like (lean forward meme). Until the Mario announcement, which was a bitter of a moment of clarity about how little it matters in the overall quality of the film.
When I was a kid I loved Ice Age 1, but I didn’t know or give a shit who Denis Leary and John Leguizamo were. I recognised Ray Romano’s voice from Everybody Loves Raymond but in my head Manny the Mammoth was a distinct entity to Ray Romano. I was drawn to it for the animation, jokes and entertaining characters, it’s only adults that are going to be drawn in by knowing a particular actor voices a character.
The Drake and Nicki one is particularly funny to me because I’m trying to imagine that happening in the 2020s, like you get to the end of the Minions trailer and it goes ‘starring, Megan Thee Stallion, Kanye West, Chris Brown, and Iggy Azalea’ (dub rapping over footage, we’re gonna cum money).
So that’s pretty much everything I wanted to say about Ice Age. I feel a whole lot better having let it all out. I genuinely hope they keep making them, EXCEPT WAIT THEY DID.
Secret Number 8: Adventures of Buck Wild
Ok so all the previous Ice Age movies were made by Blue Sky Studios. They were owned by Fox, and of course Disney bought Fox in 2019. Disney then closed down Blue Sky in April 2021, another business casualty of COVID. All ongoing and planned projects were cancelled, including a movie adaptation of the fantastic webcomic Nimona, despite the fact that they were reportedly 75% done on it, with the likes Chloe Grace-Moretz and Riz Ahmed doing voice work.
All cancelled, with the exception of The Adventures of Buck Wild, a planned spin-off TV show for Ice Age. Disney opted to go forward with that one and turn it into a movie with a release on Disney+. I’m not bitter at all.
Blue Sky hadn’t even started working on animating Buck Wild by the time of its closure. Instead, it was animated by Bardel Entertainment. They’re primarily known these days for animating Rick & Morty and that Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, but the bulk of their history is in additional animation for Dreamworks films and, surprise, spin-off TV shows for animated movies.
You wouldn’t even need to know this, because everything about the film screams that it was a spin-off TV show. With the exception of Simon Pegg, none of the original voice actors return. The replacements are 50/50 between failing to do an impression of the original actors and just not bothering at all. The dialogue also has these awkward pauses between lines that are just a beat too long, which is usually a sign that everything was recorded extremely quickly and efficiently without the option of re-recording without incurring prohibitive costs. I suppose it didn’t help that we had the pandemic going on during production which would have affected travel and studio availability.
Quality-wise, the animation was more giving me flashbacks to things like Jimmy Neutron and Rolie Polie Ollie than it was the previous Ice Age films. Everything looks strangely stop-motion, like everyone is only moving one body part at a time, and the fur just doesn’t look finished half the time. The last two films had a 2.40:1 ratio, but Buck Wild yoinks it right back into 16:9, making it look even more like a TV show.
I don’t even want to talk about the plot because it’s literally that Crash and Eddie go hang out with Buck and they fight some dinosaur. The only other thing worthy of note is that there’s a girrrl Buck called Zee – remember what I was saying, everyone’s got to have a fuck buddy in Ice Age.
Probably most importantly, there’s no goddamn Scrat in the movie, who as we’ve established is the sole reason the franchise found success. Which leads me to:
Super Secret Number 9: The Scrat Legal Dispute
It turns out there’d been a dispute over the creation of Scrat for about 20 years. Ivy Silberstein, a fashion designer, claimed that she created the character, a squirrel-rat hybrid she called Sqrat (with a Q), and pitched it to Fox execs. They turned her down, but two years later released Ice Age featuring Scrat (with a C), a saber-toothed squirrel.
Fox offered to settle for 300 grand, but she turned it down and took them to court. She lost, and then tried to trademark Sqrat with a Q, which Fox tried to stop. Fox actually lost that case, and in 2020, Disney (who owned Fox by then) lost the rights to the character, so Scrat can’t appear in Ice Age without her permission, which she probably won’t give. I don’t think Supersonic’s received any damages as a result of the win, presumably she’s still pushing for that. But for now, Scrat is dead.
So the original studio has closed down, Disney lost the rights to the most marketable character, the last two entries in the franchise were critically panned and had disappointing financial returns, and all of the voice actors are inevitably decaying as organic matter does. This appears to be the end of the Ice Age franchise.
BUT WAIT THERE’S A SECOND SURPRISE.
Super Secret Special Number 10: A Scrat TV Series Is Coming Out
At the end of February, Disney announced that Scrat Tales, a TV show about Scrat and his child, Baby Scrat, would be coming out in April. Presumably they worked out the trademark dispute with Silberstein and can release Scrat content again. I am so excited, and I am 90% certain I have just fallen victim to the sunk cost fallacy.
OK that’s the end of the video. I promise, I’m actually done now. Since you made it this long you’ve also fallen victim to the sunk cost fallacy so why not watch another video. That’s how that works, right? We’ve got more movie content on this channel, and our sister channels UDS Music and UDS Gaming have exactly what you’d expect on them. Adios!
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