Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Oh my goodness! Scrat is at it again; his eternal quest for that elusive acorn has gotten him and the critters on Earth into some deep trouble this time around in ICE AGE COLLISION COURSE. In this fifth chapter of the ICE AGE franchise, that squirrelly squirrel sets off a cataclysmic chain reaction that threatens the sanctity of all life on Earth. That includes Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) and Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes) – even their villainous pursuer, dino-bird Roger (voiced by Max Greenfield).
At the film’s recent press conference in Los Angeles, the voices and producer Lori Forte gathered to speak about everything from what’s in their doomsday kits, to the storyline that emerged first, to if the franchise is going away any time soon.
Scrat’s story was created first. Forte stated, “It was connected to the very first ICE AGE, where they went through the ice museum and saw a spaceship. Goodness knows how that ever got there. No one ever knew. It was just a real fun little joke to us, but we also thought, ‘Well, there’s something interesting there. There’s a story.’ We didn’t know what it was, but I knew one day, we would tell that story. When we were thinking about ideas for this movie, every movie of the Ice Age franchise seems to get bigger in scope than the one before, and I thought this was the perfect story to tell. There was a whole new world of the cosmos that we could introduce. Once we started with that, then we figured out the storylines for the characters. It all has to grow out of what we’ve seen for them before because we don’t want to tell the same stories again. We just continue to evolve and grow the characters.”
Wholesome family entertainment is the attraction to return to their characters – and money. While John Leguizamo joked that “money” was the reason he returns to play loveable sloth Sid, Sykes conceded, “For me, it’s being able to have something out there for the whole family can see. My kids can’t come to my shows. It’s nice having something they all can see.”
They tried to have the actors record together. Typically, when actors come in to voice over, they record alone. Though this isn’t always the case, more often than not, it’s the way it works. Greenfield was understandable to this, stating, “As much benefit as you could probably get from being with the other actors, I don’t know how much it would ultimately work, in what [the filmmakers] trying to do.” Forte elucidated, “With John Leguizamo, we tried a couple of times to have him record with another actor, but it didn’t really work for us. You want to get that repartee, but in order to do that, they tend to speak over each other. What we need to do is get really clean, single reads, so it doesn’t really help. The only way we could possibly do it, if we ever do it in the future, would be to have two booths with glass partitions on both.”
There was room for improv. Romano had confessed most of Manny’s lines are set in stone, but Leguizamo was given a little more freedom to play around. He said, “We do a little improvisation. The lines are pretty damn funny the way they are written. There’s still room to make stuff up and goof. He’s a character who just yammers and yammers. I can yammer away any garbage and then they’ll clean it up later.”
Voicing in the ICE AGE series has allowed Ray Romano and John Leguizamo to develop new skills. Romano said, “It’s another skill you’ve gotta develop. I know in the beginning, it took me awhile to emote without being to move my body. I don’t know where that helps in acting, but it is another skill.” Leguizamo followed up, stating, “It’s complicated at first because there’s no visual. There’s no cartoon. There’s no other people’s voices. You just have a script. Then they draw according to your emotional cues. But you have to feel free and it takes a while to feel free. Then it’s great!”
Ray Romano has a line that gets him back into character each time. He said, “I’ve always had this one line from [the first] ICE AGE that gets me back into character. Where Sid is telling me they are migrating to the South and I’m going to the North. I say, ‘I’m not going Sid!’ I just say that over and over again. I’m not kidding – every recording session. People don’t think I’m doing a voice, but in my head, I’m doing a voice.” Queen Latifah has a line too – or rather a certain character’s name. “I just say, ‘Manny? Manny. Manny!’ with a really nasally voice. Repeat it over and over, because I’m always calling him for something. That lets me know I’m back in the family again.”
They aren’t ready to say goodbye yet. Forte said, “We always just work on each film, one at a time. We don’t usually look beyond the film we’re working on. Each film takes about four or four and a half years, to go from the ideas and the script to pre-production and production. It’s a long time, so I’m not going to look six, seven or eight years into the future. I think that if the audience says they want another movie, I do have more ideas.” She later stated, “We did do a Christmas special and an Easter special for television, and we have done some Scrat shorts. We’re so busy, right now, focusing on the features. I’m hoping that there will be a TV series in our future, but that remains to be seen.”
Wanda Sykes’ “doomsday kit” needs updating. Since the film deals with an impending Armageddon, the subject of end of the world preparedness came up. Sykes conceded she is well prepared, but in a way that suited her singleton lifestyle – not her current one as a parent. “I need to update my kit. I have one like before kids – that’s why I need to do one for after kids. A flashlight, water, weed and wine.”
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE opens on July 22.