Three mammals and a baby. A computer-animated woolly mammoth, sloth, and saber-toothed tiger (your species needs to have an interdental sound in it -- oth ... oth ... ooth -- in order to join this fraternity) on a trek to restore a foundling to his migrating tribe. The wordless prologue -- of a high-strung squirrel looking to bury an acorn in a winter landscape, wedging it forcefully into the ice, and creating a fast-growing fissure and a major avalanche -- is practically a cartoon unto itself, and very funny. Then the talking starts (voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, and Denis Leary), and we revert to the stock-in-trade of contemporary animation: smart-ass repartee, hipness, hardness, abrasiveness, and anachronism: "Hey, does this look like a petting zoo to you?" and "I don't eat junk food" and so forth. (The intermittent reappearances of the nonverbal squirrel are always welcome.) The inescapable end-of-an-eon melancholia is restricted to one scene of animated cave paintings depicting the extinction of the mammoths, and is a soggy oasis. Co-directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha. (2002) — Duncan Shepherd
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