The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild is the 6th installment of the Ice Age franchise, although after 20 years it is starting to show its age with lots of cost cutting and listlessness. The main actors from the Ice Age movies are replaced by significantly cheaper sound-alikes instead of movie stars and even the bug-eyed rat Scrat, probably the most recognizable critter from the franchise, is completely absent. Ice Age started as a 20th Century Fox / Blue Sky Animation Studios production which was then gobbled up by Disney and Ice Age immediately became a Disney franchise. Buck Wild is straight to streaming on Disney Plus and, unlike a lot of streaming content out there, the tossed off haphazard cheapness shows. The biggest, and only returning, voice actor is Simon Pegg and while he tries and sometimes succeeds in adding energy, it’s not enough.
Possums Crash (Vincent Tong) and Eddie (Aaron Harris) are living with their adoptive sister, the woolly mammoth Ellie (Dominique Jennings). Although their constant schemes and wacky antics are irritating Ellie and her husband Manny (Sean Kenin) and his buddies. One day, the possums go out on their own to find a sweet bachelor pad and end up in the underground lost world populated by dinosaurs. There they run into Buck Wild (Pegg), the carefree and crazy adventurer who fights for the freedom of the land from the nasty and big brained Triceratops, Orson (Utkarsh Ambudkar). With the help of Buck’s former ally, Zee (Justina Machado), they face down Orson and his squad of raptor goons but Buck may have bitten off more than he can chew, while Ellie and her friends search the lost world to find the wayward possums.
The film seems a little on the chintzy side. The animation is stiff, and the image looks like they ran it through a single render pass with barely any depth. Compared to the lush visuals in Disney Plus original films like Raya and the Last Dragon or Soul, this is downright bad. It looks like a lame TV series stretched out to a feature length. Considering it was originally announced as an Ice Age TV show spin-off, that is probably correct. The Ice Age franchise employed well-known actors like Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary. Their characters are here but they’re basically just cameos and they aren’t even voiced by those actors. To be fair, the sound-alikes kind of nail it with only the guy who is supposed to sound like Denis Leary 80% there. Even Crash and Eddie in this film have been recast. It feels like a tossed off direct to streaming film to just keep people binge-watching Ice Age content.
At least Pegg gets in some fun as the title character. It’s a symptom of the film’s unfocused nature that it kicks off seeming like a story about Crash and Eddie but when Buck shows up it basically becomes all about him. Still, Pegg’s crazy Buck has some entertaining moments. He’s been living on his own for so long that he’s gone a bit loony, living with a pumpkin he calls his daughter. One moment when he says to the bad guy that he has a pumpkin daughter the bad guy just sounds irritated. Pegg’s delivery is very high strung and wacky, almost a shame that the animation is so static it doesn’t match the crazed cadence of his performance.
Tong and Harris as Crash and Eddie are interchangeable quip machines, although most of them are decent because the film maintains they are incredibly stupid. There’s a funny bit when they fantasize about their own bachelor pad which shows them decked out in bling which is good for a laugh. The film tries for some emotional pathos with them leaving their adopted woolly mammoth sister, but it seems mostly tacked on. Orson the bad guy has a gleefully over the top vocal performance from Ambudkar, and he has a classic baddie motivation– he is deformed but smart due to his big brain so he wants vengeance against the world. The best bit is him going on evil rants and then gets touchy about his raptor goons in his personal space. Zee is Buck’s former sidekick and they have a snarky relationship that may or may not recall adventure serial odd couples. She seems like the competent one, and Machado adds bite to her line deliveries, while Buck charges in without thinking about the consequences. Crash and Eddie can never remember her name to the point where the credits of the film even call her “Zee (or whatever her name is)”. Not a bad gag in the credits roll.
There are some moments of fun zaniness contained in The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, and Pegg is swinging for the fences, but it’s mostly weak. A much better zany streaming animated comedy is the last Hotel Transylvania that has manic energy peppered throughout. This just seems like a tired and trite brand extension for Ice Age, dutifully punted to the Disney Plus streaming service after they bought 20th Century Fox. It won’t increase subscribers, but it’ll keep people from switching it off as it autoplays after watching Ice Age 5 or whatever.
The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild
Director: John C. Donkin
Starring: Simon Pegg, Vincent Tong, Aaron Harris, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Justina Machado