Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Starring the voice talents of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway,, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santorio, and Jermaine Clement

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Release Date: March 22, 2011 (World Premiere)

Blu (Eisenber) is a blue macaw living in Minnesota with his owner Linda (Mann). He wants nothing more out of life than to hang out in Linda's bookstore, drink cocoa, and ride his skateboard; Blu has never even learned how to fly! Then, one fateful winter, a Brazilian ornithologist wants to bring the pair to Rio so that Blu can meet with a female macaw named Jewel (Hathaway) to possibly save the macaws from extinction. Will the pair hit it off? Will Linda lose her childhood friend?

In my opinion, Blue Sky animation had previously made one good film, an adaptation of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who; I think the Ice Age trilogy is hit-or-miss and Robots was really bland. However, I can honestly say that Rio is a fun, colorful adventure that families will certainly enjoy.

First, let's talk about the good parts of the film: the visuals, the music, and the antagonist played by Jermaine Clement. Since the film is mostly set in Rio de Janiero (during the festival known as Carnival), the visuals pop and shine so that the film has a loving care put into every color, even the muted ones. I love how much energy comes from the scenes set during the Carnival parade, as elaborate floats are set against a crazy chase during the third act. The music is mostly samba, obviously, but I also was enjoying the original songs written for the film. Then, there's Nigel, the evil cockatoo played by Jermaine Clement. The character is so over-the-top, an ego-maniacal actor that you can tell Clement was enjoying this role in the studio booth.

Now, we have to discuss the film's flaws: cliched characters and an all-too familiar plot. As much as I enjoyed Nigel, many of the other main characters are archetypes we've seen before: the bohemian love interest, the orphan who wants a home, etc. There's a character, Tulio, who I really enjoyed for his goofy behavior while helping Linda look for Blu. Sadly, he's stuck in the b-plot which means we only get to see him once in a while. Also, the plot is all too familiar: mismatched pair who initially don't like each other but must work together (see The Emperor's New Groove). Sure, this is bound to happen in animated movies aimed for kids, but why is it that Pixar is the only company who wants to take risks with their stories? It's just disappointing that the writer's couldn't take a risk, because they do write a lot of humorous dialogue.

Rio is a good family film that, while offering few surprises, is still a visual treat with goofy humor.

Rating: * * * 1/2 of 5

1 comment:

ashok said...

It's an excellent review. Your critique of Blue Sky seems on the mark.

It's good to know that this is a family friendly film, and cliched sometimes can be an advantage. The awesomeness that is Pixar can go over young kids' heads.