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Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special(TV) (2011)
When Sid accidentally destroys Manny's heirloom Christmas rock and ends up on Santa's "naughty list," he leads a hilarious quest to the North Pole to make things right and ends up making things much worse. Now it's up to Manny and his prehistoric posse to band together and save Christmas for the entire world.
For more about Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special and the Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray release, see Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, T.J. Miller, Seann William Scott
Director: Karen Disher
» See full cast & crew
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray Review
Someone should decrease the surplus population of hackneyed Christmas specials...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 1, 2012
Let's get one thing out of the way, right up front: A Mammoth Christmas Special isn't the Next Great Holiday Classic. It isn't a classic at all. Cute, maybe. Cuddly, sure. Cheerful, no doubt. Christmas-y? Inexplicably so, but more on that in a bit. Nope, it's just another 26-minute holiday TV special that may as well be called Ice Age: A Christmas Cash-In. It isn't inspired or inspirational, it isn't clever or cohesive, it isn't very funny or, surprisingly, all that festive, despite the garland-decked forests, candy cane trees, naughty list hijinks, flying reindeer antics and St. Nick mishaps. It's a half-baked holiday treat slapped together using the Scraps of Christmas Specials Past, and it shows from beginning to end.
Humbug, you might find yourself saying. I bet my kids will love it! Not so fast, dearly devoted moms and dads. Your kids will like it, of that I'm sure. But will they love it? Not if the pack of six tots that were just recently dragging all of my son's toys into our basement are any indication. Soon after their parents dropped them off at our house for four hours of holiday babysitting, I tossed in A Mammoth Christmas Special under the assumption that it would hold them over until my wife returned from the mall with six Chick-fil-A kids' meals. The lineup? One nine-year-old boy (a superheroes fanatic), one seven-year-old girl (smart as a whip and keen on Hannah Montana), one seven-year-old boy (for whom Star Wars is all the rage), one five-year-old boy (who lives and breathes Dreamworks Animation), one four-year-old girl (a rough-n-tumble ball of energy with a quick wit) and, last but certainly not least, one two-and-a-half-year-old girl (who, earlier this evening, rolled a brush through her hair and left me with twenty minutes of de-tangling work). I watched carefully as they grinned, smiled and... little else. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I couldn't help but notice the frosty glaze settling into their eyes. They laughed a whopping three times and each was a polite, noncommittal laugh, as if the creators behind A Mammoth Christmas Special were sitting in the same room.
As the credits rolled, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a page from my colleague Michael Reuben and his review of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. I walked over and popped the disc out of the Blu-ray player. "Well, what'd you guys think?" The nine-year-old boy, who hereafter will be referred to as Bruce Banner: "It was weird. Not very funny. Can we watch something else?" The seven-year-old girl, iCarly: "Is Rachel back with the food yet?" The seven-year-old boy, Anakin: "I liked when they slid down the hill. It wasn't as good as the movies, though. Can we watch the first one?" The five-year-old boy, Hiccup: "Nah, let's do something else. This one got boring. Why do they always leave the squirrel behind!" The four-year-old girl, Toph: "The reindeer were awesome! I like Peaches. She's silly!" The two-year-old girl, Ming-Ming, with some prompting: "S' pretty!" And that was the end of it. Chic-fil-A came and went, toys rained down from the second floor and, before any of them knew it, their parents were en route. They didn't speak of A Mammoth Christmas Special after my initial questioning (which was, uncharacteristically for this group, like pulling teeth); Bruce, Anakin, Toph and Ming-Ming had trouble remembering what it was even about a mere two hours later; and not one of the kids -- not one -- asked to watch it again. (Which amounts to a Christmas miracle with the six fledgling cinephiles in question.) It was as if those twenty-six minutes of their young lives had dissipated in the wind, never to be mulled over again.
Why go through the trouble of recounting what turned out to be such an inconsequential dead-end conversation? Because with six kids to garner information from, I would have thought at least one of them would have something to say about the Ice Age special we just watched without being grilled for their thoughts. The problem wasn't the kids, though. It wasn't the mood, the hunger, some major distraction, or anything other than the sort of all-ages ambivalence you'd expect after sitting through an unremarkable, altogether disposable Christmas special. The story is muddled and nonsensical: Sid (John Leguizamo) and half of the ever-expanding Ice Age gang head for the North Pole in the hopes of being scratched off Santa's naughty list, Prancer the reindeer (T.J. Miller) comes to their aid, and Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) are tasked with saving Christmas... after nearly destroying it. Never mind how Christmas exists in the Ice Age timeline, how Manny and his cohorts can know so much about Santa yet introduce him to the eight tiny reindeer that will allow him to be known in the future, or how they know where to find the Man in Red in the first place. Ah well, I wouldn't put much thought into the premise. The writers clearly didn't. Worse, the voice performances are only three degrees warmer than wooden, the animation isn't on par with the feature films, the comedy is strained and stilted, Scrat's typically surefire sequences fall fairly flat, there's no real coherent message, and I suspect few children will beg for Mammoth when choosing what to spend their winter vacation watching.
The good news? It isn't Frosty Returns bad; not even close. And at less than ten dollars, it makes for a decent stocking stuffer. Just be warned: chances are your kids will watch it once and forget about it hours later. It's cute, cuddly and cheerful, to an extent, but a clever Christmas classic? Again, not even close. There are far better Christmas Blu-rays to be had on a bargain hunter's dime, far better stocking stuffers worth stuffing, and far better animated releases to chuckle through on a snowy December day. Don't take my word for it, though. Just ask Bruce, Carly, Anakin, Hiccup, Toph and Ming-Ming. Even their blankest stares speak volumes.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ice Age spreads plenty of Christmas cheer with its 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation, though. Aside from some exceedingly minor bouts of banding and aliasing (look to the skies and fine fur, respectively), all of which comes and goes without any fuss, the Mammoth Christmas Special looks quite good, right down to the snow spilling off of Manny's tusks. True, the Ice Age television special doesn't feature the same level of tender, loving attention to animated detail as its big-screen big brothers, but on the technical front, all is well. Colors are bright, bold and bountiful, black levels are sooty and deep, and texture clarity and edge definition are straight-from-the-digital-tap perfect. Matted fur and other shortcuts sometimes trump more exacting animation (again, thanks to budget and production schedule limitations, not a middling encode), but there isn't a hint of softness, artifacting or any other grinch-y anomaly lurking around and causing trouble. As animated TV special presentations on Blu-ray go, A Mammoth Christmas Special doesn't disappoint.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray, Audio Quality
A Mammoth Christmas Special doesn't boast the sonic sleigh bells of its feature film counterparts either, but its humble sound design still gets the job done. Dialogue is clean and crisp, without a single line, mammoth harumph, or panicked urp falling prey to poor prioritization, and sound effects are light and airy, without any mishaps worth singling out. Low-end output is a touch underwhelming at times, but it still dutifully scrambles to support every weighty fall, avalanche, downhill slide and toppling tree that requires the LFE channel's best efforts. Rear speaker activity is less-than-spectacular too, but there are enough directional treats, playful outbursts and ambient flourishes to make the soundfield fun and festive. Audiophiles will ultimately shrug their shoulders, casual fans will be pleased, and kids will be delighted.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, there aren't many ornaments on the Ice Age tree. An "Ice Age: Continental Drift Sneak Peek" (HD) doesn't bode well for the franchise's fourth feature film and a "Swingin' Jingle Bells Music Video" (HD) will most likely irritate any adult in earshot.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special has been getting decent buzz and you only need poke around the internet for a few minutes to find a number of people who've really enjoyed watching it with their kids. Is it a new Christmas classic? No. Does it deserve to be uttered in the same sentence as A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and other pre-commercialization-of-television-holiday-special releases? Nope. A Mammoth Christmas Special joins a growing list of holiday specials being churned out for the sole purpose of fueling a franchise, nabbing some extra cash, and reminding fans that another feature film is on its way. Cynical? Perhaps, but it's hard to watch A Mammoth Christmas Special without the nagging feeling that it's driven by a holiday marketing, not Christmas spirit. That said, Fox's Blu-ray release won't find any coal in its stocking Christmas morning. Its bargain bin pricepoint and barebones supplemental package cancel each other out, and the studio's AV presentation is a strong one. At less than ten dollars, the Blu-ray edition of A Mammoth Christmas Special is a suitable stocking stuffer. Like most stocking stuffers, though, it will be forgotten once the kiddies tear into their real presents.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special: Other Editions
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