The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild
Starring Vincent Tong, Aaron Harris, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Simon Pegg, Natalia Martinez, Ray Romano, Queen Latifah
This is an Ice Age adventure in the usual Disney vein. Typically, in the franchise’s tradition, some current universal issue is addressed (e.g., climate change, its threats and others’ to animals and to earth), along with changes in relationships within small groups, like a family or a herd, facing a major threat. This one focuses on children ready to leave home, pitting their urges against the common parental holding on, and changes that take place in relationships across time.
In a previous version of Ice Age (e.g., Continental Drift) it is Manny (Romano) who has trouble letting his daughter Shira leave home; in Adventures of Buck Wild, it is Ellie who wants to keep their adoptee possums, Crash (Tong) and Eddie (Harris), from striking out on their own. Various points are made about their not being ready to be on their own range from “You’re not ready” (Ellie) to “it’s about time” (Manny)—perspectives that will be familiar to all.
As we follow the possums sneaking out to forge their own futures, we are taken with them on numerous adventures that make them question their decision to leave home, some of which are treacherous. Notably, although they do reconnect with their old savior Buck Wild (Pegg) after entering the “Lost World”, earth’s most dangerous place where ancient dinosaurs rule, they will still go through numerous trials, concluding with the usual Disney ending when points are made about sticking together as a family/herd and care and concern about others.
This production is an example of a franchise that has outlasted its relevancy
The biggest threat in this story is evidenced by Orson (Ambudkar), the animal with the big brain who wants to rule the world. The familiar narcissistic traits of such a personality are apparent, which make it easy to dislike him. But although autocratic regimes (accurately portrayed in this rendition) wanting power are familiar to all of us, there is little insight in this film about how to counteract such entities. Simply resorting to old—previously relevant—strategies about sticking together or wreaking vengeance is not going to do it. There have to be reasons for sticking together—not just something like “we’re a family.”
This production is an example of a franchise that has outlasted its relevancy, despite its efforts to relate to the modern world. Yes, we know about climate change and the difficulty personal relationships undergo across time, but what to do, really?
This is a cartoon not expected to give us profound insights, but it would have been nice to see some clever insight—even comedic—that would give us a clue. There are encouraging statements made about change across time—its benefits as well as the anxiety it produces, and about how despite change, some elements such as a person’s basic identity remain the same. It is a bit amusing to see how personal responsibility is modelled in the echoing arguments about “it was my fault”, “no, it was my fault.”
However, I can’t imagine anyone maintaining interest in this franchise across all its repetitious 20-year iterations. It’s likely that only newcomers will engage with this one, the latest.
Oh, to be transported to a universe—even a fanciful one—where today’s problems would be addressed intelligently.