Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

  • Review Date: June 30, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

Common Sense Media says

3-D sequel is fun but also more intense than past films.
  • Review Date: June 30, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie may spark a real interest in prehistoric animals, particularly dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and sloths.

Positive messages

The movie offers a positive message about what it takes to be a "herd" or family -- no one gets left behind, new members are welcome, and everyone has a place.

Positive role models

Ellie -- a strong female character who knows when to assert herself despite protestations from her male partner and friends that she's not capable of defending herself -- is a lovely role model. Buck, although a loner, sacrifices a future with friends to defend them. A dinosaur and a sloth learn to care for each other, showing that affection doesn't depend on what you look like on the outside.

Violence & scariness

Lots of cartoonish violence -- some humorous (all of the acorn antics with Scrat, the baby T-Rexes swallowing their friends, etc.) and some potentially frightening (various dinosaurs chase the protagonists, threatening to injure them). For the most part, the dinosaurs don't do any damage except to Buck, who lost an eye to Rudy, the meanest, biggest dinosaur in the movie. The audience doesn't actually see Buck lose his eye, but Rudy is a scary-looking dinosaur, and the raptors are intense as well. The characters deal with several close calls.

Sexy stuff

The male and female Scrat flirt with each other and eventually pair off. Manny and Ellie, now mates, are expecting a baby and are quite sweet to each other, hugging and locking trunks. A couple of jokes involving Sid mistaking an animal's gender -- in one case he tries to "milk" an animal that turns out to be male; in another, he thinks a baby mammoth is a boy until Diego points out that "that's a tail."

Language

Mild insults (usually directed at Sid) and some scatological jokes about the dinosaurs ("poop," "barf," etc.).

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the third installment in the Ice Age franchise is likely to appeal to kids (even the preschool set) as much as the first two. That said, it's the first one in 3-D, so some scenes --  especially the ones featuring dinosaurs -- may be a bit more intense. There's lots of cartoonish violence, mostly involving Scrat and his new female friend (they also flirt and kiss, which is the extent of the movie's romance). Language is mild, but there's some scatological humor ("barf" and "poop"), as well as suspense concerning the main characters' ability to get out of harm's way.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The prehistoric pals from the first two Ice Age movies are back, and now their inter-species herd is about to grow. Wooly mammoth Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) is expecting a baby, turning partner Manny (Ray Romano) into an overprotective, nervous father-to-be. Meanwhile, saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) realizes that he's lost his edge when he can't even capture easy prey and decides to leave the overly domesticated herd. And Sid (John Leguizamo), who's worried he won't belong when the baby arrives, takes matters into his own hands and swipes three eggs he finds under the ice. The triplets turn out to be baby T-rexes -- who have an understandably angry mama. The gang must band together to save Sid from the clutches of the underground dinosaur world that thrives just below their own icy surface.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Story-wise, ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS is less compelling than its predecessors. While the first two were humorous character studies of unlikely prehistoric friends, the "threequel" is much more about the action. Audiences already know how the main characters interact, so the focus shifts to the dangerous search for Sid and the obstacles that Manny, Diego, Ellie, and her nitwit twin "brothers" (Josh Peck, Seann William Scott) face. This works fine for the movie's 3-D scenes, but in the process the movie loses a tiny bit of the franchise's humor and heart.

The only memorable new additions are Buck (British comic actor Simon Pegg), a hermitic warrior weasel who guides the crew to Sid, and the three dinosaur babies, who can't play well with their Ice Age friends (a playground scene hilariously turns into an unlikely feast as the triplets swallow their new playmates). And arguably the best new character doesn't utter a single word: Scrat's love interest, Scratte, a winged female creature who desires that elusive acorn just as much as her beloved. Scrat and that acorn are the perfect animated example of physical comedy, and their scenes alone are worth a trip to the multiplex.

Families can talk about...

  • Famiies can talk about the movie's central message about having an unconventional herd/family. What defines a family? And should it matter what a person looks like in order to be their friend?

  • Families can also discuss how the violence compares to that of other movies meant for young kids. Was the 3-D too intense?

  • Also, how did some of the characters act differently than you expected, like the weasel Buck and the mama dinosaur? And even Ellie, though she's pregnant, is no weakling. How does her character portray females?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 2009
DVD release date:October 27, 2009
Cast:Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Ray Romano
Director:Carlos Saldanha
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Dinosaurs, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs, Wild animals
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild rude humor and peril

This review of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bydkrdm July 24, 2009
AGE
6
QUALITY
 
I took my kids 4 and 8. Both loved it, and it was fun. We all enjoyed the new character "Buck". I'm disappointed in some of the sexual humor in the movie -- why must they include that? In addition to stuff already referenced here there is a scene where Mannie and Diego are being digested by a carnivorus plant. As the digestive juices rise, Diego says "oh, I'm all tingly" to which Mannie replies "don't say that when you are pressed up against me". Another reference later about a character "coming out". I'm sure most kids don't get the references, but they were just really unnecessary. The overall message was good. Sometimes families change (i.e. the introduction of a baby changes a lot), but in the end families (or the pack) stick together . . . and a family can come in many non-traditional forms. I also liked Sid's "mothering" of the dino eggs. Cute and sweet. Overall a good movie, just annoyed about the unnecessary sexual humor.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Parent of a 2 and 6 year old Written byachilleseffect July 10, 2009
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

Extreme Gender Bias

My problem with this movie lies in the gender stereotypes it perpetuates. First, there are too few female characters. Second, the ones that are present are highly stereotypical. The female squirrel uses her feminine wiles to manipulate the male. Ultimately, she is rescued by him and, of course, falls in love. Once the two are "married" she turns into a bossy shrew and he longs for escape. Terrible messages all around. Then there is Ellie. I see that other people consider her a strong role model, and in many ways she is. She is brave and courageous. Yet she is held back from rescuing Sid the Sloth because she is having a baby. How convenient that the baby comes just as they are about to go on the most dangerous part of their mission, which keeps her out of the hero role - a situation that is all too common for female characters in kids' movies. What kind of message does this movie send about women? They are either manipulative vamps or beatific mothers who are strong enough to bear children but not qualified to be rescuers. On the male side, we have other stereotypes, namely the idea that men cannot talk about their feelings. Manny is very uncomfortable admitting how he feels about his friends. Ultimately he is shown to be wrong in this belief, but his discomfort never quite goes away. Very unfortunate. This film was funny and had lots of action, but it sends entirely the wrong message about gender.
Parent of a 6 year old Written byLB2010 June 17, 2010
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

Not my favorite

I didn't like it when I took my 5yr old to see it. The T-Rex was scary. The jokes and innuendo about homosexuality were un-funny. The language was not cool. But the thing I hated most was the implication about adoption. My daughter, who I adopted as a baby, saw Sid's "adoption" of the 3 baby t-rexes as "stealing from the mama" - which in fact is how the movie portrayed it. The baby dinos, however attached they became to Sid, were not supposed to be with him. They think Sid is their mama and we're supposed to laugh about that. Meanwhile their mom is furious, and we're supposed to laugh about Sid's peril - well, he stole away her babies after all. What was the movie saying about adoption? Anything? Well, this adoptive mom and her 5yr old daughter got some confusing messages from it.
What other families should know
Too much swearing

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