Ice Age: Collision Course

Director: Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu (2016) BBFC cert U

There seems to be no stopping this prehistoric animated franchise as it cheerily grinds on its way across the savannah of global cinema.

In yet another episode of extinction avoidance, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary return to voice Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre toothed tiger.

As ever Scrat the squirrel is the main reason to watch and time passes slowly whenever he’s off screen. The acorn obsessed animal ends up in outer space and accidentally causes an asteroid to threaten life on Earth.

Meanwhile down on the planet’s surface our squabbling trio of heroes are engaged in painful subplots to fill out the running time. Sid is allowed a romantic interest and Manny’s irritating daughter plans to get married.

Having begun in 2002 and now on a wearying fifth instalment, it may be better for all concerned if the one of the many threatened catastrophes occurred.



Director: Tim Johnson (2015)

A fugitive alien and a streetwise girl team up to save the world in this bright and busy animated adventure.

Based on Adam Rex’s 2007 children’s book The True Meaning of Smekday, it’s a technicolor blast of fun for the little ones that adults will be happy to doze through.

Proud of their cowardice, the many tentacled Boov are small, roundish and look as if moulded out of purple bubblegum.

They change colour depending on their mood; red when they’re angry, green when they lie, orange when scared and so on.

Although they seek safety in numbers, the Boov prefer to spend their time on their alien smartphones than talk to each other.

Engaged in a galactic game of cat and mouse with their angry armoured enemy, the Grog, the Boov conquer a new planet whenever they need a new home.

Lead by the blustering prevaricator Captain Smek (Steve Martin) – who’s not unlike the Wizard of Oz – they descend on Earth.

Using giant tubes attached to their flying saucers, the Boov suck up all the humans. This leaves the buildings intact to be their living spaces.

The people are deposited safely in a purpose-built, sunshine-soaked suburbia. It’s a fairground-filled, pastel coloured ghetto out of Tim Burton‘s worst nightmare – but is actually in Australia.

An optimistic but naive Boov called Oh (Jim Parsons) emails an invitation to his house-warming party but sends it to the entire galaxy by mistake – including to the Grog. As a result he becomes a fugitive.

Due to the vast galactic distance the it has to travel, the Boov have forty hours to hack Oh’s password, prevent the Grog from receiving the email and discovering where they are.

Meanwhile Oh encounters a human who accidently escaped relocation. She’s a curly haired poppet called Tip (Rihanna) and is desperate to find her mother Lucy (Jennifer Lopez). Instead of a pet dog named Toto, Tip has a cat called Pig.

Parsons riffs on his super-nerd persona of Sheldon in the TV series The Big Bang Theory. Rihanna is adequate playing a headstrong if whiny character.

In the credits I counted 6 songs by Rihanna, 1 by Jennifer Lopez and non by Parsons.

Reluctantly teaming up, Oh turns Tip’s family car into a flying mobile. Now powered by a slush drink dispenser, the car conveniently serves cinema snack food such as nachos, popcorn, hotdogs and the like.

Together they confront the Grog and discover not everything they have been told is true.

Their good-natured squabbling becomes annoying though the film achieves a reasonable emotional depth when they shut up.

With the animators allowed to work uninterrupted, they conjure up a dazzling image or two.

The script is keen on cramming in an exhausting list of life lessons; keep promises, tell the truth, appreciate art, take care of your family, be web safe, be brave, learn a foreign language, shushing people is bad..

There’s a lot of toilet jokes, a reasonably zippy pace and the movable skulls of the brainy Boov made me smile. Though not the least challenging, it is a genial good time.

The Boy Next Door

Director: Rob Cohen (2015)

A reckless one night stand leaves school-teacher Jennifer Lopez fearing more than detention in this sensationally silly stalker flick.

Indifferent direction, terrible dialogue and a soundtrack that rumbles with unintentional comic effect make this a thriller to avoid.

Struggling mum Claire (Lopez) is rescued from a descending garage door by the hunky Noah (Ryan Guzman). New to the neighbourhood he’s the 19 year old great nephew of the cancer sufferer next door.

With chiselled good looks, perfect grooming and oiled-up abs, Noah looks and acts as if he’s stepped out of a coke commercial. It turns out he’s a transfer pupil to the high-school where Claire teaches.

Noah fixes the family car and makes himself useful around the house. He befriends Claire’s teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson), intervenes with the local bullies, takes him for target practice and teaches him to box.

As soon as Claire’s estranged husband Garrett (John Corbett) takes Kevin on a camping trip, Noah and Claire are bonding over literature. He pops round to gift Claire a first edition of Homer’s The Iliad.

One dark and stormy night while the boys are away, Noah seduces Claire with the aid of a frozen chicken. She’s quickly demonstrating a nice line in lingerie and her own buff abs – but their steamy night of passion is secretly filmed.

When Claire wakes up she realises her career, family and life are at stake. But overnight Noah has developed a raging Oedipal complex and breathtaking anger management issues.

Claire’s attempts to gently reject him are not well received and Noah takes to playing rock music really loudly in his car as a sign of how truly peeved he is.

Noah tries to pressure Claire into a repeat performance by leaving incriminating graffiti and photographs around the school, so she confides in her vice-principal and best friend Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth).

There’s an unconvincing car crash, some computer hacking, a fractured skull and people are tied up in a barn.

Dutch camera angles, an awry colour palette and a shuddering dissonant soundtrack are employed to illustrate Noah’s inner anguish and rage. Possibly because Guzman is reluctant to project it himself.

Lopez is a decent actress who excels with strong direction, a decent script and talented co-stars – none of which she benefits from here.

This could have been a gleefully vicious and hilarious black comedy similar to The Guest, instead it’s an insipid and stupid compendium of recycled riffs and ideas.