One has to assume that the hugely successful, nearly $70 million opening of Ice Age: The Meltdown is the result of some fortuitous timing, lack of competition at the box office, and, well, the film being a sequel.
Otherwise, the film doesn't deserve to be in the same league with The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, the only other animated features to open to such strong numbers. Ice Age: The Meltdown (rated PG for some mild language and innuendo) is modestly entertaining and will probably delight many children, but its limp storyline and dependence on mildly crass humor and Looney Tunes--style physical comedy make it a parental disappointment.
Like Ice Age, the sequel focuses on three friends who've formed their own multi-species herd-Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo). When the climate begins to warm and the ice begins to melt, Manny, Diego, and Sid join an exodus of animals from their valley, fearing a massive flood.
Naturally, each of the three friends is dealing with his own issues: Manny fears that he is the last of his kind, Diego is afraid of water, and Sid just wants a little respect. They're joined in their trek by Ellie (Queen Latifah), another mammoth who thinks that she's a possum and her two "brothers," actual possums Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Scott Peck). Manny's awkward courting of Ellie, during which he communicates their duty to prevent the extinction of their kind, provides occasion for the film's mild, but not particularly welcome, sexual innuendo.
Ice Age: The Meltdown is the type of children's film that delights in slipping semi-innocuous references to profanity into the script (guess what synonyms for "donkey" and "a water-retaining wall" sound like?) and pummeling its characters with repeated shots to the head and groin. There's a certain other animation house in town that likely would not stoop so low, and, for that, parents should be grateful.