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Originally published Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 12:04 AM

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'Ice Age: Continental Drift' melts under a load of 3-D

A movie review of "Ice Age: Continental Drift," the fourth edition of the animated franchise that goes prehistoric-warthog wild with the 3-D gimmick, resulting in an overbusy picture jampacked with subplots.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Ice Age: Continental Drift,' with the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer. Directed by Michael Thurmeier and Steve Martino, from a screenplay by Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs. 87 minutes. Rated PG for mild rude humor and action peril. Several theaters.

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Hey! Have you heard? There's this thing called 3-D, and it's really neat.

You sit in the theater wearing these special glasses, and it seems like stuff is jumping right off the screen at you — tusks, fangs, snouts, claws, you name it.

OK, I know. 3-D. Nothing new. Hollywood's latest gimmick. Overused. Yawn.

Yeah, but the people who made "Ice Age: Continental Drift" went prehistoric-warthog wild with it. It's like: Kid, meet candy store.

Now it's true that the previous (and third) movie in the series, 2009's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," was filmed in 3-D. But this time around it feels as though the filmmakers came up with the 3-D scenes first and then thought up a movie to wrap around said scenes.

The result is an overbusy picture jampacked with subplots, all of them quite trite.

Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) is deep into overprotective-father mode, laying down the law to his daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), who was born at the end of "Dinosaurs" and is now a boy-crazy teen. Sample dialogue:

Daughter: "So tell me, when, exactly, will I be allowed to hang out with boys?"

Daddy: "When I'm dead. Plus three days, just to make sure I'm dead."

Meanwhile Sid, the daffy half-wit sloth (John Leguizamo), is still coping with abandonment issues, being dumped a second time by his long-absent family. This time, his sassy granny (Wanda Sykes) gets left behind, making the family tradition of unfeeling desertion an intergenerational affair.

And Diego, the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), comes down with a bad case of love-itis when he meets up with Shira (Jennifer Lopez). The cool lady cat happens to be a member of a pirate crew (sample dialogue: "Aarrgh!") who capture our heroes and try to make them walk the 3-D plank.

Furthermore, land masses are dividing and separating Manny from his wife (Queen Latifah) and kid, so he has to battle buccaneers and violent nature to be reunited with his loved ones.

Finally, there's Scrat, the bug-eyed saber-toothed squirrel, supplying screamy comic relief as he futilely chases his elusive acorn from outer space to the depths of the ocean in scenes where the 3-D is maxed out to the max.

So the picture's a scream, courtesy of Scrat.

Soren Andersen:

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