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Ice Age: Special Edition

They may be the weirdest herd in mammalian history, but accident-prone sloth Sid, grumpy mammoth Manny, and devious saber-toothed tiger Diego are also the funniest trio of big-screen babysitters since Tom Selleck, Ted Danson, and Steve Gutenberg dealt with spit-up and diapers in Three Men and a Baby. As voiced by John Leguizamo, Ray Romano, and Denis Leary, respectively, the three prehistoric pals offer no end of entertainment as they attempt to reunite a stray human baby with his tribe in Ice Age, a charming, often-hilarious story about friendship and loyalty. The latest family flick to prove that the future of animation is all about pixels and bytes, Ice Age combines beautifully rendered images (the water in particular looks real enough to splash) with sharp dialogue and a well-paced plot. Particular highlights include the group's run-in with a flock of self-destructive, apocalyptic-minded Dodos, and the antics of Scrat, a manic rodent hell-bent on hiding his last precious acorn. Like Toy Story, Shrek, and Monsters, Inc. before it, Ice Age is one of those "kiddie pictures" that offers just as much entertainment value to adults (or, at least, adults who like to laugh). With games and an all-new Scrat short for the kids and detailed production featurettes for the grown-ups, Fox's two-disc special edition DVD is also an equal-opportunity entertainer. Disc One offers widescreen anamorphic (1:85:1) and full-screen versions of the film (both look gorgeous and come with English 5.1, Spanish 2.0, and French 2.0 audio tracks, as well as English and Spanish subtitles), a straightforward commentary by director Chris Wedge and co-director Carlos Saldanha, and the aforementioned games. Unfortunately, they're not very challenging, and kids of all ages will be better served by the two accessible by popping the disc in a DVD-ROM drive. Disc Two is packed with goodies — the Scrat short, Wedge's 1998 Oscar-winning "Bunny" short, six deleted scenes with optional commentary, design galleries (which are hampered by a needlessly complex access interface), multi-angle animation progressions, three Fox ad promos featuring Scrat, trailers, an international reel showcasing the characters' voices dubbed in other languages, and a bevy of featurettes. The best of the latter include "Sid on Sid" (Leguizamo, in character, comments on his own work in the movie and offers some "behind the scenes" details), "Sid Voice Development" (Leguizamo introduces a series of early sample Sid voices), and the seven-part "Making of Ice Age," which covers everything from voice acting to modeling and rendering. Oh, and don't forget to go hunting for the disc's sole Easter egg — a blooper reel. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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