Unlike most animated Disney films, where we're left to speculate about the absence of the mother, this animated film, released by Twentieth Century Fox, actually lets us watch her get put out of her misery. She disappears and we presume she's drowned, though I suppose there's a chance she then drifted off to an animation studio where they allow mothers to live; an animation studio far, far away.
Mom leaves her little Native American child in the hands of Manfred the Mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), who don't like each other but decide they'll take the kid back to his tribe and once there maybe try their hand at Keno for good measure. Along the way they encounter Diego the Sabertooth (Denis Leary), who's supposed to bring the kid back to his sabertooth pack so they can eat him. Thus, Diego pretends to be acting in the best interest of the kid while he plans on leading Manfred and Sid into a trap.
"Ice Age" goes out of its way to imply that Native Americans are terrible parents by suggesting that a hairy elephant and a sloth would do a better job of taking care of the kid. It's also very, very curious that the devious main character is the one graced with the foreign-sounding name. I mean, everyone has heard of Manfred ("Blinded by the Light") Mann, so the name Manfred inspires instant comfort. Sloths seem harmless enough, and Sid the Sloth sounds safer still. Diego, however, is an automatic referent to somebody of Hispanic descent. Thus, the message of this movie is that Native Americans will abandon their children, while Hispanics will conspire to eat them whole. Now there's a pleasant lesson for the kiddies.
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