Many of America's top critics are giving "Ice Age: Continental Drift" a frosty reception.
The fourth film in Fox's lucrative Pleistocene era animated franchise debuted Friday, and like the previous installments focuses on the misadventures of a group of wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and assorted pre-"Dawn of Man" critters.
It comes equipped with a slew of celebrity voice overs from returning stars Ray Romano and John Leguizamo and newcomers like Jennifer Lopez and Peter Dinklage.
If early tracking holds, the latest "Ice Age" should top the box office, but it won't be thanks to those cold hearted reviewers, most of whom gripe that the movie is predictable and overly frenetic. The animated film was saddled with a 43 percent "rotten" rating on critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes; not exactly the kind of euphoric reception that typically greets Pixar or DreamWorks Animation films.
In TheWrap, Alonso Duralde branded the film simplistic and dull, with too many life-lessons and too few laughs.
"The nothing-special 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' is the library paste of movies — smooth and flavorless, kids eagerly consume it despite its total lack of nutritional value," Duralde writes. "And while swallowing paste won’t do children any harm, attentive parents should offer a tastier alternative that might actually do them some good."
Also urging families to skip the animated offering was Roger Ebert. The Chicago Sun-Times scribe said the film was a "cheerless exercise" that would really only delight the very young.
"The characters are manic and idiotic, the dialogue is rat-a-tat chatter, the action is entirely at the service of the 3-D, and the movie depends on bright colors, lots of noise and a few songs in between the whiplash moments," Ebert writes.
Among those left with an iced over heart was USA Today's Claudia Puig, who implied viewers should come for the "The Simpsons" animated short that proceeds "Ice Age" and skip the main feature.
"Sans words and set largely in the Ayn Rand School for Tots, the brief tale is far more clever and whimsical than any sequence in 'Ice Age,'" Puig writes.
But the film did have its partisans, among them A.O. Scott of The New York Times, who found the picture inoffensive, albeit uninspired.
"'Continental Drift,' like its predecessors, is much too friendly to dislike, and its vision of interspecies multiculturalism is generous and appealing," Scott wrote. "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."
Less lukewarm in her assessment of "Ice Age"s' virtues was Betsy Sharkey of The Los Angeles Times, who praised the look of the film and its action sequences.
"The dialogue is sometimes too sluggish and definitely too preachy, the ending is a little too sappy, yet somehow this strange collection of prehistoric critters and their completely illogical life are consistently likable, if not quite lovable," Sharkey writes.
When it comes to "Ice Age," that constitutes a rave.