As “The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild,” the sixth feature in the animation franchise begins to fade with the film, you sense that something isn’t quite right. Perhaps it is the dinosaur paradise serenely preserved beneath alpine glaciers? Can’t be: That particular anachronism has been canon for several “Ice Age” episodes.
Strangeness here stems from the missing cast of famous performers, including Ray Romano, who lent surly enthusiasm to the mammoth Manny over five films, and John Leguizamo, the source of the sloth Sid’s whimsical charm. Neither appears in “Buck Wild” (on Disney+), which instead opts for a series of close proxies. It’s not unheard of to replace actors in sequels (Robin Williams was noticeably absent in “The Return of Jafar”), but adults can become engrossed in this movie’s voices to gauge their allegiance to the originals — it leads in anyway from the dialogue.
And there is a lot of dialogue. Directed by John C. Donkin, “Buck Wild” puts the spotlight on motorized possum brothers Crash (Vincent Tong) and Eddie (Aaron Harris), who served only as half-hearted sidekicks in previous films. In search of adventure, they reunite with the one-eyed weasel Buck (Simon Pegg, the only actor to reprise his role) and go on his quest to save the underground Mesozoic jungle from a despotic Protoceratops (Utkarsh Ambudkar). It’s simpler than it sounds.
The chaos is kept in check by a sensible zorilla named Zee (Justina Machado), who rescues the boys from trouble and teaches us that courage comes from within. Being held with this zoological crew can melt your brain faster than ice in a heat wave. And where is Scrat, the squirrel whose unwavering pursuit of an acorn often saves the franchise? Almost nonverbally, Scrat wouldn’t even need a locum tenens; of all the film’s sins, its omission is unforgivable.
Buck Wild’s Ice Age Adventures
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. Look at Disney +