Though the narrative style of "Ice Age" has been around for almost as long, superb animation, a droll script, and excellent vocal talents make this a compelling and surprisingly moving addition to the computer-generated canon (where it sits alongside the likes of "Monsters, Inc." and "Shrek").
As glaciers slowly cover the earth, a mis-matched group of prehistoric animals reluctantly club together to return a lost human baby to his tribe. Sid, a lackadaisical sloth (Leguizamo), falls over a lot and annoys a serious but kind mammoth, Manny (Romano), and a duplicitous sabre-toothed tiger, Diego (Leary).
As the trio make their perilous way towards the humans' winter camp, Soto (Visnjic), the evil leader of a pack of tigers, plans to cut the group off, kill the child, and have the mammoth for breakfast. Meanwhile, a frustrated squirrel tries to bury his one, precious acorn - with disastrous results...
Although "Ice Age" doesn't match "Shrek" for animation and wit, it still manages to remain consistently entertaining and delightful throughout.
That's not to say it's cute - far from it. Part of the characters' appeal is that they're actually rather grotesque - all bulging eyeballs and distorted features. But this makes them funnier and somehow more fragile as the tigers and elements conspire against them. A scene where Sid discovers the freakish stages of evolution frozen in ice is particularly quirky and amusing.
Of course, there's some overly-sentimental nonsense during the final reel and an ending left wide open for a sequel, but as far as entertaining family films go, this one's cool.