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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

An animated film starring the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Simon Pegg, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary; Directed by Calos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier

Rating: Kids are being blinded by non-science.

The New York Times recently reported that the standard Hollywood ratings — G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 — are now being re-examined due to the plethora of Internet sites that affix their own ratings to films from a particular perspective (does the very fact of evaluation affect the ratings result?). There are the obvious sites that rate films based on the presence and level of sex, violence, profanity, drug use and crass bodily functions. There are also Web sites that focus on narrower issues and concerns such as whether and how smoking is depicted or Christian beliefs are portrayed, and a film’s effects on teen alcohol consumption and just overall conspicuous commercial consumption. These sites believe that you need to be guided by their ratings as the Hollywood ratings do not accurately warn you of pernicious, insidious content.

There may already be websites that rate films based on their scientific accuracy; that is, a film’s use — or misuse — of scientific principles. (I searched and did not find one.) In fact, no such site may exist as scientists typically shy away from raising a ruckus about scientific misperceptions and inaccuracies. Just a theory, but that may be because the scientific method itself is designed to produce skepticism and doubt. Certitude may be true in mathematics, but in other scientific endeavors theories are designed to be tested, analyzed and picked apart. In other words, there may not even be agreement among scientists on how to rate a film on its depiction of science.

So, in the interest of, er, science, here’s how such a Web site might, for example, rate Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs:

SADD in Film
(Scientists Against Dumb Depictions in Film)

Rating code:

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

General comments: We here at SADD in Film are not so cerebral that we cannot have a good time at the movies. We enjoy using our molars to grind up the starch from the heated expanded kernels bathed in over half a dozen different saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. We also happily gaze at reflected light waves filtered through a cellulosic acetate film pigmented by an image capturing device or computer to create moving animated images, or a series of “1”s and “0”s arranged to produce the same effect.

What we reject is the use of cute Jurassic age creatures and wooly mammalian species to propagate falsehoods and ignorance about all things scientific. But that is just what Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs does. And we reach the boiling point of molten boron when we know that certain established scientific principles — principles that are astonishingly disbelieved or unknown by the public — are so mysteriously controversial that it has become problematic to teach them in our schools. And, yet, our impressionable offspring are being subjected to scientific outlandishness masquerading as cartoonish entertainment. For evidence, we cite the following:

• It’s controversial to expound the scientific theory that humans evolved from lower primates. But, according to Ice Age, it’s just fine to depict:

> dinosaurs hanging out with wooly mammoths, sloths and other animals from the ice ages — eons after the dinosaurs went extinct; and

> from the film’s very title, dinosaurs “dawning” during the Pleistocene.

• It’s not okay to “blame” humans for producing gasses that are heating up the atmosphere. But, so says Ice Age, it’s okay to suggest that:

> animals can survive atop small boulders in a river of lava; and

> ice and snow won’t melt even when it overlays tropical underground caverns where volcanoes spew lava.

• It’s inappropriate to declare that animals have intelligence and can feel pain. But, per Ice Age, it’s fun to indicate that animals can:

> talk;

> get “high” by sniffing toxic fumes;

> possess feelings of revenge for gouging out an eye;

> fashion eye patches;

> sit still and ride flying dinosaurs;

> understand the concept of private property and trespassing; and

> sculpt ice sculptures and build playground equipment.

• It’s acceptable to believe that the dinosaurs lived only a couple of
thousand years ago. And, seemingly with Ice Age, it’s also within the realm of reason to show dinosaurs:

> traipsing around in the cold and snow; and

> dinosaur eggs that can still hatch after being abandoned in an ice cave and slid around on the snow and ice.

• It’s problematic to use stems cells for research that can cure many diseases and ailments. But, as Ice Age asserts, it’s completely natural that:

> mammals can view reptile eggs as potential offspring; and

> baby reptiles crave and drink mammalian milk and can wait days before needing to be fed.

• It’s no problem that nearly 40 percent of the public does not know that the continents are moving around on tectonic plates. But, with Ice Age, there’s nothing to worry about when it shows that:

> the sun shines in underground caverns; and

> huge dinosaurs and lush plant life can live in such underground caverns.

• We seem not to worry that less than 50 percent of the public knows that electrons are smaller than atoms. But we can overlook the fact that in Ice Age:

> carnivorous animals can live happily and non-threateningly beside prey; and

> an adult male Tyrannosaurus Rex can plummet off a cliff and still survive.

• That animated kids films like Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs can reach the top of the box office and take in nearly $200 million. But that two scientific films, which combined have been in theaters for 277 weeks, take in only $35 million:

> Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon; and

> Dolphins and Whales: Tribes of the Ocean.

And, what’s even more exponentially mindboggling than solving the mathematically vexing Riemann Hypothesis: these two films, like Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, are also in 3D!

Doug Young, our film critic, won first prize for humorous writing in the Colorado Press Association’s annual contest last year, where he received a 100 percent score for his film reviews.