It doesn’t matter when it takes place or what it’s about — every franchise has to have a Christmas episode, dammit! From Mystery Science Theater 3000 to Charlie Brown and from that terrible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles direct-to-video monstrosity everyone forgot about to that epically awful Star Wars Holiday Special — which aired once and only once — there just seems to be some sort of law about proliferating the yuletide cheer (or shamelessly promoting your product, as is sometimes the case) onto your fellow man. Or woman. And especially the kiddies. Hell, we even like spreading the disease to prehistoric critters, which is what Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special is all about.
The 25-minute commercialized Christian holiday exclusive aired Thanksgiving 2011, and was released to Blu-ray and DVD only two days later (damn, that was fast!). The short — one of several entries in the popular CGI franchise about a group of Paleolithic animals — opens with Sid the Sloth accidentally destroying Manny the Woolly Mammoth’s giant ball of Christmas granite. Look, you’re just going to have to accept the fact that they’re celebrating it millions of years before anyone had just cause to right here and now, OK? Anyway, the gang come up with the bright idea to decorate a tree, but that doesn’t convince Sid that he hasn’t been removed from Santa’s naughty list — which Manny made up (but which Father Christmas soon adopts after hearing of it).
Yes, Santa’s alive and kickin’ in this era as well — proving once and for all that the Christians are, in fact, wrong about the origins of this holiday. And, after Sid and his posse of Kringle groupies discover the jolly fat elf (wait, so elves existed before man?), they completely — accidentally — lay waste to all of the generic wooden gifts he has created in his construction zone; a right jolly old mistake that they soon rectify with the help of new characters Peaches (the Mammoths’ little girl) and the rainbow-excreting reindeer Prancer. In fact, they all pitch in enough to give Santa Claus some new ideas on how to make Christmas and gift-giving more effective.
All of the old characters (provided by their original voice artists: Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, et al) are present here, while new vocal talents are provided by Billy Gardell, Ciara Bravo, T.J. Miller and Judah Friedlander. At its core, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special is an enjoyable spin on the otherwise tired holiday special formula, loaded with that unmistakable style of wit the Ice Age franchise has become so well-known and admired for. The jokes fire repeatedly from all cannons from the first frame (Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel once again opens for us) and, well, any animated TV holiday special that can get me to chuckle is definitely doing something right.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment presents Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack with a $14.99 retail price. The 1.78:1 presentation here is quite loverly all-around, boasting a clear image with vibrant computer-generated colors. Audio-wise, there’s a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that does a pretty durn good job, and Fox has also included 5.1 Dolby Digital French and Spanish audio options as well as subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish. Should the $15 price tag seem too steep for a 25-minute television special, they’ve also thrown in a clip from the forthcoming fourth film in the frosty franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, as well as a music video the kids can annoy you with for hours on end.