A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas is a holiday special featuring the popular prehistoric posse that's best enjoyed by those who are familiar with the characters and their relationships. All of viewers' favorites return -- including Skrat on his ill-fated quest for acorns -- and a Christmas crew (Santa, reindeer, and prehistoric elves) rounds out the cast. Families will have fun with the movie's unusual versions of favorite holiday tunes and the way the story incorporates the origins of popular Christmas traditions. Santa's existence is called into question, but a young character is determined to prove that he's real. Expect more of the same slapstick violence in bits, one quick face-to-face shot of a huge spider that might frighten younger kids, and some pseudo cursing ("frolicking fruitcake!"), but none of this overshadows the movie's positive themes of friendship, teamwork, and good ol' holiday spirit.
What's the story?
Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) and his daughter, Peaches (Ciara Bravo), are getting ready for the holidays by trimming their family's traditional Christmas rock when Sid's (John Leguizamo) eagerness to help leaves the sphere in pieces. In his frustration, Manny tells Sid that he's earned a place on Santa's (Billy Gardell) naughty list, then accidentally lets it slip to Peaches that he doesn't really believe in the big man himself. Determined to prove him wrong, Peaches sets out for the North Pole with Sid, who hopes to get back in Santa's good graces, and soon Manny and his crew are hot on their trail to bring them back home. Unfortunately Sid's luck isn't any better up north, and when they accidentally obliterate Santa's workshop, it's up to the whole group to band together and pull off a true Christmas miracle.
Is it any good?
While the plot is a little predictable, there are enough twists that long-time fans won't be bored. ICE AGE: A MAMMOTH CHRISTMAS follows three popular full-length movies that have entertained fans with humor, quirky characters, and touching connections between unlikely friends. Sure, there's a lot of mayhem and an eventual happy ending, but along the way, the story offers some unique interpretations of the origins of modern Christmas traditions -- like topping a tree with a star and the use of reindeer to pull Santa's sleigh.
Content-wise, there's little reason to fret over settling in with your kids to take in this comical Christmas tale. Tots might need some reassuring over the slapstick violence (a slab crushes a squirrel, two mischievous opossums tussle a bit) and some general peril, but overall the movie is well suited for families. What's more, the gorgeous CGI is a real visual treat, and the characters themselves (the animal ones, that is) are a fun way to introduce your kids to the concept of prehistoric life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Ice Age movies. Have you seen any of the movies featuring these characters? Do you like how their personalities and relationships have evolved? How are they different here than they were in the first one?
Kids: What defines a family? Who's part of your family? Do you consider your friends to be part of your family? How do your family members express their love for each other? How do the characters do the same?
Why is it important to take responsibility for your actions? What should you do when your actions hurt or frustrate someone else? How does it make you feel when someone hurts you? Can you think of an instance in which you made amends for something you did wrong?
For kids who love holidays
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