Latest 'Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D' a summer blast for all ages

By ELLEN KIMBALL, Special to

I want to confess. Surely you know confession is good for the mind and the soul (if there really IS a soul). It’s refreshing, and it seems to be all the rage this summer.

I loved every cotton-pickin’, chicken-pluckin’ minute of “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3-D” now playing in theaters. Loved the idea, loved the two other films very much, and thoroughly enjoyed the 3-D effects. This movie is all I wanted it to be.

You won’t be able to dissuade me from my point of view because I like what I like. Now, don’t go all cerebral on me! I could pick the script apart if I wanted to, and there were pieces of the film that could have been improved. Offhand, I can’t think of one, so sue me.

It’s a summer film in a genre which I have always thoroughly enjoyed.

Another confession. Ray Romano can do no wrong in my book. Maybe he sounds like the two New Yorkers to whom I was married. Now I’m married to a Bostonian whose Brooklyn mother -- reminds me of Ray Romano. His self-deprecating family humor tickles my funny bone and it has for many years. So I was primed to see this film.

The “Ice Age” intro was great fun, as always, with the Scrat the squirrel, voiced by Chris Wedge, trying to save his acorn from destruction. In this film, there’s a new female squirrel called Scratte (I think there should be an accent mark on that final E so it sounds like “Scrat-TAY”). Their hysterical antics as they scrap over that single acorn defy verbal description.

I took my eight-year-old grandson to the preview screening. If he hadn’t loved “Ice Age 3-D” right away, I’d try to cajole him to see it again.

That wasn’t necessary; my grandson loves it, too, just like he loved the other two films. He says the best part is where the animals find themselves in the green toxic atmosphere. It doesn’t hurt them, but it alters their voices to a higher register, making them sound as if they are breathing helium, much to everyone’s great delight.

Memo to Grandma Ellen, a former children’s live TV co-host in the late 1950s: I have to get my grandson a helium balloon so he can actually try this!

Now, the big pats on their furry backs to the whole voice cast, including Ray Romano (Manny the Mammoth), Queen Latifah (Ellie the Mammoth, expecting a BABY), Denis Leary (Diego, the old saber-toothed tiger, feeling as if he is slowing down), John Leguizamo (Sid the Sloth as a reluctant but loving single father to three cutie-pie dinosaurs). How DOES Leguizamo do the voice of the lisping sloth for line after line? I tried it and it’s NOT easy!

There is a long list of other voice parts and a couple of special newcomers: Simon Pegg as Buck the Weasel (sounding like Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean") and Karen Disher as newcomer Scratte, the female squirrel.

The film is a treasure trove of exquisite computer renderings of characters and scenery, neat dialogue, saucy retorts, and some sweet romance.

There are double-meaning jokes and sly low-brow innuendoes. Scenes of ice and snow are beautifully rendered, and when the group goes “down under” to a jungle setting with dinosaurs and volcanos, it’s another kind of gorgeous. The new song, “Walk The Dinosaur" is delightful.

It’s a busy week just before the July 4th holiday. If you have time, take the family to see this film. It’s rated PG. I just want you to see the film. I’m giving it an “A” on Ellen’s Entertainment Report Card.

Directed by: Carlos Saldanha

Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Simon Pegg

Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins

Rating: PG

Release Date: July 1, 2009

Background: I’ve been mesmerized by animated movies since Mommy carried me out of the theater in 1940-something. I was watching “Bambi” when I became terrified and started to scream after Bambi’s mother was killed. Who knew that this early trauma would set the stage for a lifelong devotion to animated films? Watching cartoons on Saturday morning at the Rosetta Theater in Little River, near Miami, Florida, became an obsession. I loved every minute of these precious short films.

This was the time when animators actually drew on cells made of celluloid. I’ve observed the process in film school and tried my best to update my little stick figure drawings to something more.

But I didn’t have much talent, except for drawing a pretty good palm tree. I lived in Florida for 28 years. So, for most of my seventy years, I’ve followed animation and just enjoyed it. I'm not old enough to remember Steamboat Willie (precursor to Mickey Mouse), but did study that cartoon in film school.


Ellen Kimball is a TV and radio pioneer. She was selected as a co-host of a local, live children's television show at WTVJ-TV. Ch. 4 in Miami, Florida, during her freshman year in college. She has been working in broadcasting for more than five decades. Ellen is one of the first women in the U.S. to host her own daily radio call-in talk shows at major market stations in Miami and Boston. Ellen and her husband moved to Beaverton, Oregon eleven years ago. She currently contributes her reviews on films, theater and other entertainment to, the website of Ch. 8, the NBC-TV affiliate in Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009