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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ice Age: Collision Course is the fifth installment in the popular prehistoric-themed Ice Age franchise. It's not necessary for viewers to have seen all of the former films to understand the plot line, but it does help. The violence/peril is less intense than in previous installments but does feature serious natural catastrophes -- like a fiery asteroid headed for Earth (and destructive meteors) -- as well as egg-stealing birds bent on destruction. You can also expect a little bit of insult language ("turd," "stupid"), as well as mildly suggestive comments about "parts retracting" and hotness. The coupled-off characters also embrace or kiss very briefly. As always, the messages revolve around teamwork and the unconditional love/acceptance of the right "herd."
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What's the story?
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE begins with Scrat accidentally creating the known solar system, courtesy of an alien space ship that had been frozen in a glacier. Once in outer space, Scrat continues his never-ending quest for his beloved acorn, only to wreak so much interplanetary havoc that he causes an asteroid to head straight toward Earth. Back on Earth, the prehistoric squad of wooly mammoth Manny (voiced by Ray Romano); his mate, Ellie (Queen Latifah); saber-tooth tiger Diego (Denis Leary); and sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) deal with the surprise engagement of Manny's and Ellie's daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), to mastodon Julian (Adam Devine). To Manny's chagrin, Julian, whose philosophy is "no plan is the best plan," and Peaches want to leave the herd to "roam" around after the wedding -- but once it's clear an asteroid is coming, the group becomes singularly focused on survival and teaming up with their clever weasel friend, Buck (Simon Pegg).
Is it any good?
For a series that's long overstayed its welcome, this fifth (and hopefully final) installment still manages to elicit a few laughs. It also references everything from Neil deGrasse Tyson and hash tags to profile pictures and bro handshakes. Thankfully, the trendy comments, while plentiful, aren't so that constant they become obnoxious. In fact, one of the best sequences in the story is reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan, with Buck singing a super-fast, talky song to the tune of "Figaro's Aria" from the The Barber of Seville.
What bogs down Ice Age: Collision Course is the sense that we've seen all of this before in the previous installments -- and we more or less have. Aside from Peaches' engagement and the introduction of a hippie commune of animals who've discovered the fountain of youth (thanks to naturally magnetic crystals), the new storyline brings little that's fresh to the franchise. While it's no doubt going to make younger kids laugh -- particularly the lovesick Sid, his snarky grandma (Wanda Sykes), and the goofball brothers Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck) -- Collision Course isn't likely to fully charm parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's scary parts. Do you think they're OK for little kids? How much scary stuff can kids handle?
Does humor make violent movie scenes less scary? Why or why not?
How would you describe the central message of the Ice Age series? What defines a family? Who are the family members in this movie?
Why do you think sequels are so popular? Does the Ice Age series feel complete now, or would you like to see another one? How does Collision Course compare to the four others? Which is your favorite?
- In theaters: July 22, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 11, 2016
- Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg, John Leguizamo
- Directors: Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild rude humor and some action/peril
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