This week:
Ice Age

Filthy says:
"As fun to look at as a new computer."

Am I the only one who gets a lot of e-mail saying "get a job, you lazy fucker"? I get lots of these e-mails every Monday morning from folks at work, who read the column wen they're supposed to be doing their jobs. I'm the lazy fucker for writing movie reviews in my spare time? You're not the lazy fucker for screwing around at work?

Well, you are, and God bless you for it. You're doing what makes America great; procrastination and jerking off are what keeps so many people employed. If all of you actually got right to work, imagine how productive you'd be. Your bosses would lay off half your co-workers. Then they'd all have plenty of time to get drunk and write pissy movie reviews, too. And I don't want that. I'd rather give the laziest of you an excuse to rip off your employers. So, don't e-mail me and tell me to get a job. E-mail me to thank me for being the greaseball that keeps this big economic machine lubricated and chugging along. I'm doing my part to keep you rolling in dough.

I have a theory about these fancy-ass animated movies. Measuring technological advancement is objective, while evaluating art is subjective. A movie like Ice Age is all about the technology. The improvements and advancements in quality can be measured. If a studio spends a shitload of money on computers and designers, it can see the results on the screen. The animation looks more fluid, majestic and realistic. Nobody disagrees whether a movie is technologically advanced or that something looks good. It requires money and no faith to make something look good.

A screenplay, direction and acting, on the other hand, can only be measured subjectively, meaning it depends on people's tastes. Even what you think is the greatest movie ever made is probably hated by someone else. For example, take my retard cousin Larry and my ongoing argument over The Seventh Seal. He loves that Bergman shit and says it perfectly expresses his ennui with his retarded roommates at the assisted-living facility. I say it needs more tits, and what the hell is "ennui"? It takes balls, vision and a dream to make what you think is beautiful because there will always be someone who hates it. You have to have confidence in what you're doing, and the great artists are the ones who do. To write a great script or to direct or produce a great film means you believe in it personally and want to tell others.

Hollywood is scared shitless of believing in anything. That's why they spend so much fucking money asking test audiences to write their endings for them. So, what we get are technologically perfect movies with no soul. That's Ice Age: millions of dollars of computers thrown at a bland script full of pooping and animals getting bonked on the head. It looks great, but where its heart should be is a hack screenwriter doing exactly what a bunch of play-it-safe executives and focus groups ask for. It's like having a CD of a shitty album when it's way better to have a vinyl copy of a great one.

In prehistoric times, long before even classic rock, an ice age is beginning and the animals are heading south. All except the woolly mammoth Manfred (Ray Romano), who is headed north for some reason that never is made clear. After saving Sid the Sloth's (John Leguizamo) ass, Manfred is joined by him. Soon, they stumble upon a baby who is being hunted by sabertooths, and the two decide to return it to its owner. They are joined by the sneaky Diego (Denis Leary), a tiger trying to lure the baby and the juicy mammoth to his pack before it can reach its parents.

The plot is clumsier and more precarious than an epileptic carrying a desk down the stairs. It's the sort of botch job jam packed with characters who make decisions necessary to push the story forward, but make no sense. Because the movie needs a road trip, Leary leads the baby, Romano and Leguizamo way out of the way in order for his pack to ambush them. It would be way easier and faster for the pack (who know where he is) to go to him. I can't for the life of me, understand why Leary's tiger doesn't just kill the damn baby when he first sees it. That's what tigers do, after all. He would devour it faster than Mrs. Filthy with a Swanson's Hungry Man. If he did, though, no movie. And why a sloth and mammoth would ever trust a tiger to lead them in the first place is a complete fucking mystery. It's hard to buy the story that can't even justify this. In one scene, Leary is about to snatch the baby from a sleeping Romano, yet moments later he is explaining to his fellow tigers not to touch it because he is leading the group to an ambush. So, why the hell was he trying to snatch it? I guess for no reason but to add tension to a scene as flaccid as the dicks at a Mexican pharmacy specializing in OTC Viagra.

There are a few of inspired scenes in the movie. A sequence of scenes featuring Scrat, a squirrel/rat has a spiritual tie to Wile E. Coyote. His quest for a lone acorn plays throughout the movie and the forces that keep him from getting it are funny and for the same reasons that that Wile E. and my attempts to get free porn are. Because we want it so bad. Another is a brief sequence showing why the dodo birds went extinct, and were aptly named. These scenes are clever, but the rest of the movie relies heavily on literal shit-flinging and animals falling down. Easily 70% of the jokes are about someone hurting his head, ass or getting shit on himself. The other 30% are from the "Stock Sidekick Banter Handbook" from 1979. It's the same sass-talk we've heard before, and will hear again the next time Hollywood has new technology to show off.

Leary, Romano and Leguizamo are nobody's idea of a voice A-team. Leary is a self-satisfied comic who isn't angry but plays that way on TV for money. He does a passable but dull job. Romano is a guy whose appeal is that he's an everyman, a standard-issue schmo, and his voice is flat and unexpressive. Hell, they might as well have let everyman do the role. The guy who makes an impact is the always annoying and shitty Leguizamo. His antics may have impressed the drama-department girls in high school who assumed he was gay and, therefore, safe to have as a friend. He isn't funny. He does his sloth with a silly voice and lisp that are desperate, not amusing.

It's a fucking shame Hollywood has so much more faith in computer graphics than in stories. Maybe they're in the wrong business. Two Fingers.

By the way, a much, much funnier and touching ice age survival story is told on King Kong's Me Hungry. This is the only rock opera I will ever recommend, and the only one with the lyrics: "Take that you piece of shit beast! Beastie bear, let me eat my berries in peace!" Steal it, buy it or listen to the free tracks at Amazon.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Donald Barthelme - Come Back, Dr. Caligari

Listening to
King Kong - Me Hungry


Shawn Edwards of the FOX-TV (in Kansas City)

In Showtime "The laughs never stop! Murphy and DeNiro are a comedic dynamic duo in this insanely funny and incredibly entertaining movie!"

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Harrison's Flowers is "Powerful, compelling and important."

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