BEFORE making general facetious remarks about the third film in Fox’s glacially (get it?) boring prehistoric franchise, let us consider the sabre-tooth tiger who goes by the name of Diego. Is it hyperbole to describe the creature (voiced, as ever, by Dennis Leary) as the most boring character in all animated cinema? I think not.
Composed of indifferently rendered grey polyhedrons, Diego is back to mope morosely about the drab planes and creaking forests that characterised the Cenozoic era. Listen, kiddies, as he drones on endlessly about the opportunities he forswore when he decided to befriend (rather than eat) two middle-class mammoths and a sloth with learning difficulties. Take away the elongated teeth, stand him on two legs, put him in a grey jumper and you have a character from a Mike Leigh film. Only without the jokes. Come to think of it, much of
plays as if it were taking place on a bourgeois housing estate in contemporary Croydon. The two mammoths are now, erm, married and are preparing for the arrival of their first child. Mr Mammoth (Ray Romano) is becoming ever more neurotic about the forthcoming changes, whereas his wife (Queen Latifah) appears unshaken throughout.
Meanwhile, Sid the Sloth, the character who would be played by Timothy Spall in a Leigh film, has developed the urge to create his own family. If it weren’t for the dinosaurs, you’d half-expect Alison Steadman to turn up.
Hang on a moment. You don’t need a PhD in evolutionary biology to know that the dinosaurs vanished many millions of years before mammoths and sloths appeared. It is a measure of this franchise’s lazy construction that, bowing to pressure from fans who haven’t read enough Richard Dawkins, the film-makers have knocked together some half-assed plot contortion to justify the presence of giant mammal-hungry lizards.
You might, I suppose, get that in a Mike Leigh picture, but, having improvised their own dialogue, the Tyrannosauruses would really make you their story.