Ice Age: Continental Drift opens July 13

“Ice Age: Continental Drift” keeps the franchise afloat.

How many is this now? 3 or 4? I guess it doesn’t matter, having only seen the first “Ice Age” movie, not much has changed. A few loveable, computer animated, prehistoric creatures have their differences and then bond together to overcome an obstacle at the end. The studio then makes a ton of money off the merchandising licenses. Seems like a pretty profitable idea.

We start a really, really long time ago, where a hyperactive, prehistoric squirrel Scrat is chasing an elusive acorn around the world. From what I remember of the first film this pesky acorn has been outsmarting Scrat for some time. Due to a slight ding on a mountaintop the entire tectonic plate separation begins.

For not having seen the last two “Ice Age” films I caught on pretty quickly. The wooly mammoth, Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) is having issues with his maturing teenage daughter, Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer). She is hanging out with the less desirable teenage mammoths who all speak in a 2012 urban tongue.

During an argument between Manny and Peaches, the continent they are on splits in two. Manny along with his old partners, the saber tooth tiger, Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) and the spastic sloth, Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) find themselves floating into an abyss and a terrible storm. Thus begins the journey for Manny to get back to his wife and daughter.

While on the high seas the trio, who soon become of foursome when they find Sid’s senile Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes) stowed aboard, run into a pirate ship (actually it’s an iceberg). The pirates soon take the foursome hostage and there is the daring escape. While escaping they take on another saber tooth tiger, Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez).

The newly formed rag tag team makes a plan to steal another ship from the pirates; this plan forces them to make an alliance with gerbils on a neighboring island. These gerbils are aggressive and adorable and can put any Ewok to shame.

Soon the story leads back to Manny’s home continent where there is another fierce battle between the pirates and the rest of Manny’s clan. And at the end (as with most kiddie movies) each character resolves his or her problem and the audience leaves the theater feeling so good that they buy the first “Ice Age” stuffed animal that they see.

Should you see this movie? For ages 3-12 this is a solid movie with spot-on 3D animation. There are enough laughs, mostly due in large part to Wanda Sykes, and minor plot twists to keep most adolescents entertained. For those with a keen ear for classical music, the score was quite well done.

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