Eye Candy With A Heart
Actor’s Voices: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, will.I.am, Rodrigo Santoro, Tracy Morgan, Andy Garcia and Kristin Chenoweth
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Scriptwriters: Ron Rhyme, Carlos Kotkin, Jenny Bicks and Yoni Brenner
Composer: John Powell
Cinematography: Renato Falcao Animation 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG Running
Length: 102 minutes
The first Rio film was a delight. A rare tropical bird lives in Minnesota and bonds to a human so that they almost complete each other. Almost, and then each found a mate as that story went and ended up living in Rio. Rio 2 continues the story about Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and his mate Jewel (Anne Hathaway) with their family and Linda (Leslie Mann) who adopted Blu and her guy, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro). As before, the animation is exceptional and colors fill the screen so much so, the eye is dazzled by creatures and foliage. The second film concerns not only the preservation of rare birds, but their habitat. Villains are land developers, and you can tell them by their sneers and numerous tattoos. Music by John Powell is in good form and at the drop of a Brazil nut, anything on the screen starts singing.
We begin with Blu, Jewel and family in their multi-level house in Rio. They believe they are now the only five remaining Blue Spix Macaws in the world. Linda and Tulio are off in the wilds of the Amazon searching for rare birds. The adventures of the two are separate stories and come together about halfway through the film. Blu and Jewel decide to take a vacation and bring the family. Birds don't need much for travel, but Blu, being “humanized” has a check list plus everything in a fanny pack, including a Swiss Army Knife. What is amusing throughout are the ways birds live as “humans” including making pancakes, brushing teeth (whenever there are teeth), using a GPS instead of natural instinct and being careful what they eat. Eventually, Blu’s family accidentally sees a Blu Macaw fly overhead and it is off to the Amazon for them, where they come in contact with Jewel’s long-lost family (Dad being Andy Garcia) and charming ex-boyfriend, Roberto, (Bruno Mars.) Danger comes right away with the arrival of Blu’s old villain, Nigel (Jemaine Clement), a wicked Shakespeare-quoting cockatoo who can't fly anymore. travels on the back of an anteater and has a multi-colored frog/girlfriend (Kristin Chenoweth who steals her scenes.) There is also a talent show with auditions, no less. All of our feathered friends come in contact with developers who chop trees and chase birds. A strong point is made here for forest preservation.
Rio 2 is so full of action and story, one doesn't know where to begin. There is Blu’s nervousness at leaving home, keeping the kids in line, meeting new in-laws and trees full of Spix Blue Macaw’s, living in the wild and hunting for one’s food, danger from Red Macaw’s and developers. About the only thing one could not be afraid of was weather. It co-operated nicely. Running jokes are the GPS system that Blu uses, Nigel thinking of nasty things to do (think of Wiley E. Coyote here) and Linda and Tulio getting in and out of trouble. All of this against a gorgeous backdrop of trees, flowers, fruits, waterfalls and colorful birds are an eyeful. Oh, yes, and Nigel’s version of “I Will Survive” brings new life to the song.
As it stands, Rio 2 is eye candy with a heart. The characters have story behind them and the actor’s voices interpret this well, from Nigel’s Shakespearean flair to Roberto’s suave attitude toward Jewel. Songs are strategically placed and there is drama in a confrontation with tree choppers. Family and friends are valuable, both in listening to wisdom and caring for each other. Blu and Jewel’s friends from Rio end up in the forest, too, and the bulldog (Tracy Morgan) does a mean slobber on everything. There is so much going on that this film could have been like the Hunger Games series with Part I and Part II. The clever way of using graphics as part of the Macaw’s flight plan is innovative. South America couldn't have a better travel agent that this film. You want to dance on Rio’s streets, walk the beaches and paddle the Amazon. Perhaps a bit intense for kids under age six.
Copyright 2014 Marie Asner
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