Ice Age is a 2002 American computer-animated film created by Blue Sky Studios and released by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Carlos Saldanha and Chris Wedge from a story by Michael J. Wilson. The story follows three Paleolithical mammals attempting to return a lost human baby to its parents. The film stars Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Goran Visnjic.
The film was originally to be directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and produced in 2D by Fox Animation Studios, but the rise of CGI animation and the failure of Titan A.E. destroyed Fox's traditional animation division; hence, Bluth and Goldman transferred their duties for Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha from Fox's CGI division Blue Sky. The film was met with mostly positive reviews and was a box office success, starting a series with three sequels, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Ice Age: Continental Drift.
The film begins with a sabre-toothed squirrel (known as Scrat) who is trying to find a location to store his prized acorn. Eventually, as he tries to hide it, he causes an avalanche. He barely escapes, but finds himself stepped on by a herd of prehistoric animals. The animals are trying to avoid the ice age by migrating south. Sid, a clumsy Megalonyx sloth left behind by his family, is attacked by two Brontops whom he angered. Sid is soon saved by Manfred ("Manny"), an agitated mammoth who fights them off. Not wanting to be alone and unprotected, Sid follows Manny. Meanwhile, Soto, the leader of a Smilodon pride wants revenge on a group of humans by eating the chief's baby son, Roshan, alive. There is an attack on the human camp, causing Roshan's mother to be separated from the rest and jump into a waterfall. Soto's lieutenant, Diego, is sent to find and bring the baby back. Sid and Manny spot Roshan and his mother near the lake, having survived her trip over the waterfall. The mother only has enough strength to trust her baby to Manny before she disappears. After much persuasion by the sloth, they decide to return Roshan (nicknamed "Pinky") but when they get to the human camp, the humans are gone. They meet up with Diego, who convinces the pair to let him help by tracking the humans. The four travel on, with Diego secretly leading them to an ambush. Soon they reach a cave where Sid and Diego learn about Manny's past and his previous interactions with the humans, where his wife and son were killed, leaving Manny a cynical loner. At one time the group passes a flying saucer embedded in clear ice. At the end of the film, Diego, Manny and Sid battle Soto's pack and a short fight ensues. As Soto closes in for the kill on Manny, Diego leaps and stops Soto, who wounds Diego in the process. Manny, in vengeance, knocks Soto into a wall of rocks, where sharp icicles fall on Soto, killing him. Manny and Sid manage to return the baby to his tribe, and Diego rejoins them, as the group begins to head off to warmer climates.
There is also a subplot where Scrat the squirrel makes many comical attempts to bury his beloved acorn. His misfortunes include getting chased by an enormous glacier, being struck by lightning, attempting to thaw out the acorn by a fire too long so that it accidentally took the form of a kernel of popcorn, and finally getting frozen in ice along with his much sought after nut. At the end, 20,000 years later (the present), Scrat is frozen in an ice cube that washes up on the shore of tropical island. The sun slowly melts the cube, bringing Scrat back to life but the acorn, which is just out of his reach ends up being washed away by the tide. Scrat then explodes out of the ice cube in anger and hits his head repetitively on a tree, which drops a coconut. Believing it to be a giant acorn, Scrat's anger immediately turns to glee at this new find. He tries to pack it into the ground as he did previously with his acorns, but in the process causes a volcanic eruption, mirroring the opening scene when Scrat causes a break in the ice with an acorn.
The characters are all prehistoric animals. The animals can talk to and understand each other and are voiced by a variety of famous actors. Like many films of prehistoric life, the rules of time periods apply very loosely, as many of the species shown in the film never actually lived in the same time periods or the same geographic regions.
Manfred "Manny", a woolly mammoth, is voiced by Ray Romano
Sid, a giant ground sloth, is voiced by John Leguizamo
Diego, a Smilodon, is voiced by Denis Leary
Soto, a Smilodon, is voiced by Goran Visnjic
Zeke, a Smilodon, is voiced by Jack Black
Oscar, a Smilodon, is voiced by Diedrich Bader
Lenny, a Smilodon, voiced by Alan Tudyk
Scrat, a fictional "saber-toothed" squirrel, is voiced by Chris Wedge
Carl, a Brontops, is voiced by Cedric the Entertainer
Frank, a Brontops, is voiced by Stephen Root
Rachel, a female sloth, is voiced by Jane Krakowski
Jennifer, a female sloth, is voiced by Lorri Bagley