Believe it or not, the Ice Age franchise has been around for 20 years, with Scrat the saber-toothed squirrel becoming the films’ unofficial mascot. His obsession with a single acorn and the lengths he’ll go to in order to keep it have been the subject of a number of cartoon shorts that Blue Sky Studios have put on their movie DVDs. Now Scrat and the Acorn get the Disney+ treatment.
Opening Shot: We see an icy cliff face. Then Scrat (Chris Wedge), the saber-toothed squirrel, dances in while holding his precious Acorn aloft.
The Gist: Ice Age: Scrat Tales are a series of six 4- and 5-minute shorts, where Scrat figures out how to be a dad. How does that happen? In the first episode, “Nuts About You,” he slams the Acorn into the ice, which splits off and falls, taking Scrat’s precious with it. As Scrat heads down the cliff himself then chases the Acorn into some reedy grass, he encounters a tiny squirrel, Baby Scrat (Kari Wahlgren).
Scrat, who at first ignores the baby squirrel, ends up bonding with the little rascal, to the point where we see the Acorn sharing the inside of Scrat’s brain with Baby Scrat. Then Baby Scrat finds the Acorn, and the two sides of his brain start fighting it out. When Baby Scrat starts teething on the Acorn, though, the competition is on.
In the other five episodes, Scrat alternates trying to take the Acorn from Baby Scrat to saving him from peril. There is a tipping log and a greedy dodo, reflections in an ice cave that are even more competitive than they are, Scrat hitting himself with things to keep Baby from crying and setting off an avalanche, and a lesson in how to plant the Acorn that results in more harm for Scrat than he anticipated. In the final episode, the Acorn goes off a cliff and is gone forever. Scrat and Baby Scrat are forced to bond again, but their competition never ends.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Ice Age: Scrat Tales isn’t the first time that Scrat has been featured in a short. His goofy manner and obsession with the Acorn have been featured in seven different shorts, all of which have the same feel as classic wordless Looney Tunes cartoons like ones featuring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
Our Take: Since the films in Ice Age: Scrat Tales are so short, it’s easy to binge them in one 26-minute go. They all work individually, but they also play well all at once; there’s a bit of a story arc to them that pays off well in the final episode.
As with everything Scrat-related, you have to wonder how he manages to survive all the times he falls off a cliff or gets dunked in icy water as he pursues the Acorn. But, like Wile E. Coyote, Scrat’s adventures don’t adhere to the principles of physics. The fact that, despite all the mishaps he keeps getting reunited with the Acorn always gives us hope.
We’d have liked to see him actually be a dad to Baby Scrat more than just try to beat him to the Acorn. But we thought the payoff in the last episode made the rest of the episodes worth watching. We won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that Baby Scrat is definitely smarter than he seems.
What Age Group Is This For?: The shorts are rated TV-PG, maybe because of some cartoon violence and a scene where Baby pees in Scrat’s eye while Scrat tries to get a leaf diaper on him. But these shorts are suitable for all ages.
Parting Shot: At the end of the series of shorts, Scrat chases Baby Scrat for the Acorn, right into the sunset.
Sleeper Star: There’s a scene in one of the shorts that pans all the way out to a storyboard that’s being presented by one of the animators. We’ll give that animator the sleeper award for the funny look on his face when he sees his story panel shaking.
Most Pilot-y Line: We contend that putting peeing in a kids’ show or movie just to make it PG is a cheap way to do it. Then again, seeing that stream of pee hitting Scrat in the eye was pretty funny.
Our Call: STREAM IT. There are enough funny moments in Ice Age: Scrat Tales to make it worth the pretty brief time commitment, especially if you’re watching it with your kids.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.