Young music superstars Drake and Nicki Minaj debut as prehistoric elephants in “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” where their characters are engulfed in the wake of global cataclysmic changes brought about by Scrat. Scrat’s obsessively hilarious nutty pursuit of the cursed acorn brings waves of changes that trigger seas of adventure for Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), Diego the tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo).
Along with their latest adventure are Manny’s beloved wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and their now teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer of Disney’s comedy teen series “True Jackson VP”). Manny and the headstrong Peaches have been quarreling, a relatable issue to any parent or teen since Manny is the prototypical overprotective dad.
Peaches’ biggest conflict with her dad stems from the increasing amount of time she’s spending with her teenage friends, especially Ethan, the famous Big Mammoth on Campus, voiced by hip hop sensation Drake. Meanwhile, Peaches’ romantic rival for Ethan’s affection is Steffie, one of the mammoth girls is voiced by rapper Nicki Minaj. Glee’s most followed cheerleader Heather Morris portrays another teen mammoth named Katie.
For Drake, working on ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT was akin to joining a new family, and, as he puts it, “being on a big emotional roller coaster ride. I am thrilled to be part of it.”
Minaj, one of today’s brightest musical talents, notes that Steffie will do anything to hold on to her mammoth. “When she finds out that Peaches is after Ethan, she does what any stand-up woman would do – be really jealous and nasty,” says Minaj. Heather Morris’ Katie, another cool, Ice Age teen, has a distinctive look. “She is blond-haired and wears flowers in her hair,” says the “Glee” star. “And she gets to hang out with Steffie/Nicki Minaj!”
Outside of this in-crowd of teenage mammoth is Peaches’ closest friend named Louis, a prehistoric mole/meerkat voiced by Josh Gad (who stars in the smash Broadway hit “Book of Mormon”). Louis is a loyal pal to Peaches – he wishes it were more that friendship – but as Gad notes, “In the hierarchy of this high school-like environment, Louis would be the one everyone bullies. But Louis’ inner courage could change everything.”
Manny’s better half, Ellie, is an oasis of stability amid Manny’s frantic parenting. “Ellie and Manny balance each other,” says Queen Latifah, who returns as Ellie. “Manny is overprotective; Ellie is a little more relaxed and nurturing because she understands what Peaches is going through, especially with her crush on boys. As a teenager, everything seems like it’s the end of the world, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change.”
Despite her mom’s best efforts, Peaches, voiced by actress-singer Keke Palmer, rebels against Manny’s strict rules. “Peaches is going through some pretty mammoth stuff,” puns Palmer. “She’s ready to get out there and experience new things .” According to producer John C. Donkin, “Keke has her own attitude, along with some of the sass of Queen Latifah, and the warmth you find with Ray Romano.”
“‘Ice Age’ has always been about family,” says Lori Forte, who has produced the entire series and co-wrote the story. “No matter what the plot is of a given ‘Ice Age’ film, it still comes down to family – and about how Manny, Diego, Sid and the now-extended clan have each other’s backs. That kind of storytelling and humor appeals to everyone, everywhere.”
“ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT” sails July 4 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.