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The Chatty Cathys of the Prehistoric World

Fans of 20th Century Fox animation, you have cause to rejoice. A charming 3-D cartoon arrives in theaters on Friday, witty and touching and marvelously concise, part of a series that has managed to stay fresh and inventive after many years in the pop-culture spotlight.


There is one catch, though. If you want to see this little picture — a four-and-a-half-minute dialogue-free delight called “The Longest Daycare,” in which Maggie Simpson stands up for what’s right at a preschool named after Ayn Rand — you must also buy a ticket to “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

不过,该片每场放映前还搭配了另一部动画片。那是一部没有对话的四分半钟搞笑动画《托儿所的漫长日》(The Longest Daycare),讲述“辛普森家族”的玛吉·辛普森在一家以俄裔美国作家安·兰德(Ayn Rand)命名的幼儿园中为正义抗争的故事——哪怕你想看的是这部短片,也必须买一张《冰河世纪4:大陆漂移》(Ice Age: Continental Drift)的门票。

斯科莱特,电影《冰河世纪4:大陆漂移》里的那只松鼠,由Chris Wedge配音。

The Simpsons short cleverly blends the bright-colored flatness of the television show with the gimmickry of 3-D. It also upholds (more than the TV series itself) one of the golden rules of animation: no talking. With the important exception of Scrat — the obsessive rodent whose Sisyphean pursuit of an acorn is one of the great love stories of our time — the “Ice Age” movies go in the opposite direction. They come close to inspiring a new theory of prehistoric extinction: All those species clearly died from the hot air that gathered in the atmosphere as a result of their inability to shut up for even a minute.


The principle guiding the “Ice Age” franchise seems to be that you can’t have too many celebrity voice-overs. This is not entirely unpleasant. During the “Continental Drift” end credits (if you can endure a dreadful song about how we’re all one big happy family), you can match various animals with their human impersonators.


Drake and Nicki Minaj are mammoths, part of a cool-kid pack that supplies this plot-stuffed adventure with its teen-movie subplot. Wanda Sykes — no mistaking her voice — is the elderly sloth who provides genuine comic relief amid a lot of forced jollity. And that villainous pirate primate whose diction you spent nearly 90 minutes trying to identify (or maybe that was just me)? Peter Dinklage! Six-year-old “Game of Thrones” fans will be giddy with joy.

德雷克(Drake)和妮琪·米娜(Nicki Minaj)是长毛象,这些“小酷孩”作为副线的一部分,为这场情节紧凑的大冒险加入了一些青春电影的元素。旺达·塞克丝(Wanda Sykes)——她的声音你永远不会搞错——则是那只年老的树獭,在一大堆硬把你挤笑的笑料当中带来了真正的喜剧元素。还有那只你听了90分钟都认不出口音(还是只有我是这样?)的邪恶灵长目海盗是谁?是彼得·丁拉基(Peter Dinklage)!看《权力的游戏》(Game of Thrones)的那些6岁大的美剧迷们该乐翻了。

You want more? Aziz Ansari! Joy Behar! Patrick Stewart! Also John Leguizamo, of course, returning as the sloth equivalent of Eddie Murphy’s “Shrek” Donkey.

还想知道有谁吗?阿兹·安萨里(Aziz Ansari)!乔伊·贝哈尔(Joy Behar)!帕特里克·斯图尔特(Patrick Stewart)!当然,还有约翰·雷吉扎莫(John Leguizamo),就像艾迪·默菲(Eddie Murphy)在《怪物史莱克》(Shrek)里演的那只驴子一样,他也回来演那只树獭了。

As you may have gathered, there is a lot going on here. Visually, there is quite a bit of slipping and sliding and falling and careening in a landscape of jagged rocks, spiky ice floes and state-of-the-art computer-generated water.


The Blue Sky animation studio’s house style is enjoyably antic, with a playful but never sloppy disregard for the laws of physics. An early sequence in which Scrat accidentally causes the breakup of the earth’s single landmass sets a high mark for cleverness that the rest of the film sometimes tries to match. Among the busy, chaotic set pieces, a few stand out, notably a haunting and absurd encounter with shape-shifting sirens who lure mariners to their doom.

蓝天动画工作室(The Blue Sky)的制作风格是那种令人愉悦的搞怪滑稽风,充满孩子气却绝不轻率地违反物理定论。一部前作当中,斯科莱特不小心把陆地上唯一一个连接点给弄断的一幕,所表现出的巧妙成为了整部电影其他部分难以企及的亮点。在那些层出不穷的混乱情景设置中,有一些给了人们深刻的印象,其中值得一提的就有令人久久不能忘怀的那一幕:水手们因为受到海妖的诱惑而走上死路的离奇遭遇。

Mariners? In the Pleistocene era? The problem is not that “Continental Drift,” directed by Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier from a screenplay by Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs, takes liberties with the scientific record. (The movie makes fun of a previous episode’s use of dinosaurs, which never coexisted with mammoths.) The problem is that its sense of fun is essentially parasitic. Those pirates, those cool kids, that mass of cute, squeaky, nonverbal creatures (hamsters? chipmunks?) — all of them try to entertain you by reminding you of things you’ve seen before.

在更新世冰期(Pleistocene)居然有水手?由史蒂夫·马尔丁诺(Steve Martino)和迈克尔·特米尔(Michael Thurmeier)执导、迈克尔·伯格(Michael Berg)和杰森·福斯(Jason Fuchs)编剧的《大陆漂移》,问题并不在于罔顾科学史实的自由发挥(电影在一部前作中还玩起了恐龙,而恐龙和长毛象从来没有同时存在过)。它的问题在于,各种笑料根本上都是从前作中来的。那些海盗、那些小酷孩,那堆不会说话只会吱吱叫的可爱动物(到底是仓鼠还是金花鼠啊?)——它们把你逗笑的方法,就是让你回想起以前看过的情节。

And the stories — again, with the heroic and necessary exception of Scrat, a character with whom I identify perhaps more than is healthy — are warmed-over hash. Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) must deal with the adolescence of their daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), who must learn a lesson about true friendship and being yourself. Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) falls into a love-hate romance with a feisty female named Shira (Jennifer Lopez). Also, Manny must rescue his family from disaster and fight off bad guys.

再说一遍,那个充满英雄主义色彩的例外,那只松鼠斯科莱特的存在很有必要.我对这个角色产生的代入感或许都已经有点不健康了——而除此之外,这个故事就是一个炒冷饭的大杂烩。曼尼(雷·罗曼诺[Ray Romano])和艾莉(奎恩·拉提法[Queen Latifah])必须面对它们的女儿小蜜桃(Peaches,柯柯·帕尔默[Keke Palmer])的青春期烦恼,剑齿虎迪亚哥(丹尼斯·利瑞[Denis Leary])因为一只名叫“茜拉”(珍妮弗·洛佩兹[Jennifer Lopez])的雌虎而陷入了一场爱恨交加的感情漩渦。还有,曼尼还要将它一家子从灾难中拯救出来,并且对抗坏蛋。

It may be too much to expect novelty — then again, why shouldn’t we? — but a little more conviction might be nice. “Continental Drift,” like its predecessors, is much too friendly to dislike, and its vision of interspecies multiculturalism is generous and appealing.


But it is not my impression that the “Ice Age” movies have inspired the kind of devoted affection that clings to some other recent animated entertainment. Which may make it a bit cruel of Fox to lead with that instantly, durably lovable Simpsons short.

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