Let it not be said that I don’t give things a chance every now and then. I’ve made a few smart remarks before about the idea of an Ice Age Christmas special, and the series’s increasingly bizarre timeline. And I’m not the biggest fan of the series, having only watched the first two movies. But Christmas is a season for giving and forgiving, after all, so it’s only appropriate to give the special a chance on its own terms.
I wouldn’t say my skepticism about the special was completely unfounded. Certainly I couldn’t declare this a new classic for all ages. But it does have some good points.
The Flintstones no longer have a monopoly on B.C. Christmas specials.
The story is a simple one, even by Christmas special standards. Sid, in an attempt to establish Christmas trees as a new tradition, accidentally breaks Manny’s Christmas rock. During the ensuing scolding, Manny invents the idea of the “naughty list” while also inadvertently revealing to his daughter Peaches that he doesn’t actually believe in Santa Claus. Peaches determines to prove to her father that Santa Claus is real, and Sid — out to get off the naughty list — goes with her and the opossums to find the North Pole. Adventure and comedy ensues. The story isn’t going to hold the attention of anybody over the age of 10 very well, but it’s not going to irritate them greatly either, and small kids will just enjoy seeing the characters tromp along on their quest. It is a little weird seeing characters thousands of years before Christ invent Christmas traditions, let alone seeing Santa Claus show up several millennia ahead of schedule, but this is the sort of thing that typically only bothers media bloggers. When it comes to humor, there are a few laughs here and there, though as usual I find that the Wile E. Coyote-style antics of Scrat are the most entertaining.
All the regular voice cast from the movies returns for the special, and they all get some good lines. Billy Gardell provides the voice of Santa Claus, and does a good job of making him sound gruff and warmhearted at the same time — a necessary portrayal with the irritations he has to put up with here. T.J. Miller provides the voice of Prancer, who is depicted as friendly but with a bit of an ego. The depiction works reasonably well, though the way the traditional Christmas moral is delivered in relation to his character feels rather abrupt.
Animation quality is about what one should expect from Blue Sky Studios. There aren’t a lot of new characters or models to use, and those which are present are at the same level of quality as the characters reused from the films. Santa Claus, being human, looks perhaps the most out of place, and Prancer looks a bit gangly, but these are minor issues at worst.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas isn’t going to be breaking into my list of top Christmas specials any time soon, and it’s not one that I personally would make a holiday tradition. But it’s a reasonably fun way to spend a half hour, and if it doesn’t excel, it at least doesn’t disappoint either.
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