Last time we saw Manny the mammoth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and Sid the sloth in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), family was very much on everyone’s mind. Manny and his new main squeeze, Ellie, were expecting a baby. Sid had kidnapped some dinosaur eggs in order to have an instant family. (Bad idea to steal from a momma dinosaur!) Even Scrat was torn between his beloved acorn and an alluring female of whatever proto-squirrel-rat species he is. Only Diego, fearing he’d become too domesticated, was on the outs with the whole family thing.
Fast-forward a few years and the family theme blossoms in this movie. Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) parent rambunctious teenager Peaches (Keke Palmer), a daddy’s girl who nevertheless strains at his leash. She wants to hang out with the cool kids, especially the dreamy Ethan (Drake), even if that means disobeying dad while dissing and ditching her one truly loyal friend, Louis the molehog (Josh Gad).
Sid (John Leguizamo) reunites with the family who abandoned him in the first installment of the story — but only long enough for them to deposit cranky and eccentric Granny (Wanda Sykes) before blowing town again. And Diego (Denis Leary) is about to learn that maybe this bachelor thing might not be so fulfilling once he meets the comely saber-toothed Shira (Jennifer Lopez), first mate to pirate Captain Gutt (a wonderfully over-the-top performance by Peter Dinklage).
The story, as always, is set in motion by Scrat in pursuit of that confounded acorn. He manages to trigger a fault line in the earth’s crust, splitting Pangaea into the various continents we know today. Manny and family, Sid and Granny, and Diego, along with sundry other prehistoric beasts, must race to the last remaining land bridge before they’re overrun by an advancing mountain range. Of course, nothing could be so simple. Peaches’ independent streak leads to complications that split the family, stranding Manny, Diego, Sid, and Granny on a floating ice floe.
That’s where they run into Gutt, a prehistoric ape who captains an icy pirate ship manned by scurvy scalawags with scary-looking weapons. He captures the group and does mean pirate things to them. (They have nothing to plunder, so what’s his motivation?) In the meantime, Ellie, Peaches, and the other animals are in imminent danger because the land bridge has vanished and the advancing mountains threaten to push them into the sea. Will our heroes escape the clutches of the evil pirate? Will the others find a way to escape certain death?