Ice Age is a 2002 American computer-animated buddy comedy-drama road film directed by Chris Wedge and co-directed by Carlos Saldanha from a story by Michael J. Wilson. Produced by Blue Sky Studios as its first feature film, it was released by 20th Century Fox on March 15, 2002. The film features the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Wedge.
The film is set during the days of the ice age; animals begin migrating south to escape the winters. Once Manny, a no-nonsense woolly mammoth meets Sid, a loudmouthed ground sloth and the two find a human baby, they set out to return the baby. Joining them is a saber-tooth tiger named Diego, who is commanded by his pack leader to bring the baby to him to enact revenge against the humans for the loss of his pack.
This film was met with mostly positive reviews and was nominated at the 75th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature. It was a box office success by grossing over $383 million, starting the Ice Age franchise. It was followed by four sequels, Ice Age: The Meltdown in 2006, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs in 2009, Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012, and Ice Age: Collision Course in 2016.
A saber-toothed cronopio known as Scrat (Chris Wedge) attempts to find a place to store his single acorn. Eventually, as he tries to stomp it into the ground, he causes a large crack in the ground that extends for miles before setting off a large avalanche which nearly crushes him. He barely escapes, but finds himself stepped on by a herd of prehistoric animals migrating south in order to avoid the gigantic blizzard. Sid (John Leguizamo), a clumsy giant ground sloth is left behind by his family and decides to move on by himself but is attacked by 2 Brontheums (Cedric the Entertainer and Stephen Root) whom he angered by ruining their meal. Sid is soon saved by Manny (Ray Romano), an agitated woolly mammoth heading north, who fights the rhinos off and continues his path. Not wanting to be alone and unprotected, Sid follows Manny. Meanwhile, Soto (Goran Višnjić), the leader of a pack of saber-toothed tigers (Jack Black, Diedrich Bader and Alan Tudyk), wants revenge on a group of humans for killing half of his pack, by eating the chief's infant son, alive. Soto leads a raid on the human camp, during which the baby's mother is separated from the rest and jumps down a waterfall when cornered by Soto's lieutenant, Diego (Denis Leary). For his failure, Diego is sent to find and retrieve the baby.
Later, Sid and Manny spot the baby and his mother near the lake, having survived her plunge. The mother only has enough strength to entrust her baby to Manny before she disappears into the water. After much persuasion by Sid, they decide to return the baby, but when they reach the human settlement, they find it deserted. They meet up with Diego, who convinces the pair to let him help by tracking the humans. The four travel on, with Diego secretly leading them to half-peak where his pack is waiting to ambush them.
After encountering several misadventures on their way, they reach a cave with several cave paintings made by humans. There Sid and Diego learn about Manny's past and his previous interactions with the human hunters, in which his wife and child were killed, leaving Manny a loner. Later, Manny, Sid, Diego and the baby almost reach their destination—Half-Peak, but encounter a river of lava. Manny and Sid, along with the baby, make it across safely, but Diego freezes, about to fall into the lava. Manny saves him, narrowly missing certain death by falling into the lava himself. The herd takes a break for the night, and the baby takes his first walking steps towards Diego, who starts to change his mind about his mission.
The next day, the herd approaches the ambush, causing Diego, now full of respect for Manny for saving his life to change his mind and confess to Manny and Sid about the ambush. As the pair turn hostile towards him, Diego asks for their trust, and tries to foil the attack. The herd battles Soto's pack, but despite their efforts, Soto's associates manage to corner Manny. As Soto closes in for the kill on Manny, Diego sacrifices himself by jumping in the way and is injured as a result. Manny then knocks a distracted Soto into a rock wall, causing several sharp icicles to fall onto Soto, killing him. Horrified, the rest of the pack retreat. Manny and Sid mourn for Diego's injury, which they believe is fatal, and continue their journey without him.
Soon, Manny and Sid manage to return the baby to his tribe, and to their surprise, Diego manages to rejoin them, in time to see the baby leave. The group then begin to head off to warmer climates.
20,000 years later, Scrat, frozen in a block of ice, ends up on the shores of a warm tropical island. As the ice slowly melts, the acorn is washed away. Scrat breaks out going berserk running toward a tree, then finds a coconut and tries stomp it into the ground, only to mistakenly trigger a volcanic eruption.
- Ray Romano as Manfred "Manny", a woolly mammoth
- John Leguizamo as Sid, a giant ground sloth
- Denis Leary as Diego, a saber tooth tiger
- Chris Wedge as Scrat, a saber-toothed Cronopio, dodo
- Goran Visnjic as Soto, a saber tooth tiger
- Jack Black as Zeke, a saber tooth tiger
- Diedrich Bader as Oscar, a saber tooth tiger
- Alan Tudyk as Lenny, a saber tooth tiger
- Cedric the Entertainer as Carl, a Brontheum
- Stephen Root as Frank, a Brontheum, Moroetheorem father
- Jane Krakowski as Rachel, a female giant ground sloth
- Lorri Bagley as Jennifer, a female giant ground sloth
- Kristen Johnston as Sylvia, a female giant ground sloth
Ice Age was originally created and developed by writer Michael J. Wilson. He took the package unsolicited to 20th Century Fox where he became the first of several screenwriters on the project. Blue Sky Studios got the opportunity with the Ice Age script to turn it into a computer animated film. Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha took over as the directors. The drama was also dropped from the film because Fox would only accept it as a comedy. However, the drama was kept in a notable element, making the film more as a dramedy.
For research, the film's development team took several trips to the Museum of Natural History early on in production in order to make sure that the film authentically felt like the Ice Age. Ultimately, the team translated the information that they had compiled in their research by stylizing it in order to fit with the film's story.
Writing and character development
Michael J. Wilson stated on his blog that his daughter Flora came up with the idea for an animal that was a mixture of both squirrel and rat, naming it Scrat, and that the animal was obsessed with pursuing his acorn. The plan to have Scrat talk was quickly dropped, as he worked better as a silent character for comedic effect. The name 'Scrat' is a combination of the words 'squirrel' and 'rat', as Scrat has characteristics of both species; Wedge has also called him "saber-toothed squirrel." Scrat's opening adventure was inserted because, without it, the first real snow and ice sequence wouldn't take place until about 37 minutes into the film. This was the only role intended for Scrat, but he proved to be such a popular character with test audiences that he was given more scenes. The filmmakers made it so that many of the scenes with Scrat appear directly after dramatic moments in the film.
In a 2012 interview with Jay Leno, Denis Leary revealed that his character, Diego the sabertooth, originally died near the end of the film. However, it was reported that kids in the test audience bursted into tears when his death was shown. Leary himself warned the producers that something like this would happen. When it was proven true, the scene was re-written to ensure Diego survived.
Originally, Sid the sloth was supposed to be a con-artist and a hustler, and there was even finished scene of the character conning some aardvark kids. His character was later changed to a talkative-clumsy sloth because the team felt the audience would have hated him. There was also an alternate scene of Sid in the hottub with the ladies which shows him saying to them "Let's jump in the gene pool and see what happens." One of the female sloths then kicks him in the groin. This was cut because it was not suitable for children and may have gotten the film a PG-13 rating. Other innuendos with Sid were also cut from the film. Sid was also supposed to have a female sloth named Sylvia (voiced by Kristen Johnston) chasing after him, whom he despised and kept ditching. All the removed scenes can be seen on the DVD.
The fat saber-tooth cat named Lenny was actually described as a scimitar-toothed cat in the film's Essential Guide book.
The voice talents in Ice Age were encouraged to make up their own dialogue during recording. Several lines in the film were improvised by the actors.
For Manny the Mammoth, the studio was initially looking at people with big voices. James Earl Jones and Ving Rhames were considered, but they sounded too obvious and Wedge wanted more comedy. Instead, the role was given to Ray Romano because they thought his voice sounded very elephant-like. Wedge described Romano's voice as "deep and his delivery is kind of slow, but he's also got a sarcastic wit behind it."
John Leguizamo, who provided the voice for Sid the Sloth, experimented with over 40 voices for the character, including a slower-sounding voice to fit with the lazy nature of a giant sloth. Leguizamo came up with the final voice for the character after watching footage of sloths and learning that they store food in the pockets of their mouths which ferments over time.
The official CD soundtrack to Ice Age was released on May 14, 2002. The soundtrack consists of the original musical score composed for the film by David Newman and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony. The song "Send Me On My Way" and the ending credits are absent from the album.
- Opening Travel Music (1:17)
- Here's Manfred
- Angered Rhinos (2:14)
- Humans/Diego (1:43)
- Tigers Going for Baby (3:12)
- Dodos (0:42)
- Fighting Over the Melons (2:01)
- Walking Through (1:25)
- Baby's Wild Ride (1:56)
- Checking Out the Cave (3:43)
- Running from the Lava (2:27)
- Baby Walks (1:34)
- Tigers Try to Get Baby (5:41)
- Giving Back the Baby (6:26)
Ice Age was released on March 15, 2002, and had a $46.3 million opening weekend, a large number not usually seen until the summer season, and way ahead of Fox's most optimistic projection of about $30 million. Ice Age broke the record for a March opening (later surpassed in 2006 by its sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown) and at the time was the third-best opening ever for an animated feature—after Monsters, Inc. ($62.6 million) and Toy Story 2 ($57.4 million). Ice Age finished its domestic box office run with $176,387,405 and grossed $383,257,136 worldwide, being the 9th highest gross of 2002 in North America and the 8th best worldwide at the time.
Ice Age was met with generally positive reviews from critics (making it the best reviewed film of its later existing franchise); Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 77% approval rating, based on 164 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Even though Ice Age is treading over the same grounds as Monsters, Inc. and Shrek, it has enough wit and laughs to stand on its own." Similar site Metacritic had a score of 60% out of 31 reviews, meaning "mixed or average reviews". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote "I came to scoff and stayed to smile". Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times called the film a "blandly likeable computeranimation extravaganza", comparing the film's plot to the Western film 3 Godfathers.
CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave Ice Age an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Ice Age was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Spirited Away.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
- Nominated Animation Film
The initial home video release for Ice Age was accompanied by an $85 million marketing campaign involving promotional partnerships with 14 different companies, including Microsoft, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr., Dole, Langer's, Valpak, Cold Stone Creamery, and the National Hockey League. The movie was released on 2-disc DVD, VHS and D-Theater on November 26, 2002. Both releases included a short film Gone Nutty, featuring Scrat from the film.Another single disc release was released February 5, 2005, and the next year a new 2 disc release with extra features on March 14, 2006. The film was released on Blu-ray on March 4, 2008, and beside Gone Nutty, it included 9 minutes of deleted scenes.
Ice Age later received four sequels:
- The first sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown was released on March 31, 2006. The film focuses on the melting of a dam (due to, as Sid puts it at the end of the first film, global warming) and the impending flood.
- The second sequel, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was released on July 1, 2009. The film focuses on the herd finding dinosaurs being discovered underground.
- The third sequel, Ice Age: Continental Drift was released on July 13, 2012. The film focuses on the continental drift on Earth.
- The fourth sequel, Ice Age: Collision Course was released on July 22, 2016. The film focuses on a very deadly meteor coming to Earth.