Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), the blue macaw, his wife Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) and their three kids live a life of peace and luxury in Rio de Janeiro. They live in a birdhouse condo in the back yard of ornithologist Tulio (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro) and his wife, and Blu’s former owner, Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann). Tulio and Linda are on a journey deep in the Amazon to release a bird they found injured and nursed back to health. After releasing the bird, the pair sees a brief glimpse of a blue macaw. They thought Blu and Jewel were the only ones left. If they can find a flock of the birds, they can have that part of the Amazon rain forest declared a nature preserve and protect it from loggers who want to clear cut the trees. Tulio and Linda appear on the news announcing their possible discovery and Blu and Jewel see it. Jewel decides the whole family should head out for the Amazon to try and find the blue macaws. Blu doesn’t like the idea but decides to go to make Jewel happy. Also seeing the newscast is the man who initiated illegal logging in the Amazon who is known only as Big Boss (voiced by Miguel Ferrer). If the birds are found it will ruin his plans so he also heads out for the deep Amazon. As Blu and the gang are traveling, they hitch a ride on a tourist boat heading up the river. At the dock, they are seen by Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement) who has a score to settle with Blu for injuring Nigel to the point he can no longer fly in the blue macaw’s last adventure. Joining Nigel is a poisonous tree frog named Gabi (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) and a much abused anteater named Charlie who doesn’t speak. Blu, Jewel and the kids finally find the flock of blue macaws and the leader Eduardo (voiced by Andy Garcia) turns out to be Jewel’s father. Also a part of the flock is Roberto (voiced by Bruno Mars), a handsome and athletic bird who is a childhood friend of Jewel’s, making Blu a little jealous and competitive. Jewel loves being back in the forest and never wants to return to Rio, upsetting Blu who hates roughing it. The loggers are edging closer and closer to the flock and they capture Linda and Tulio, tying them to a tree so they can’t continue their search for the blue macaws. Can the flock be saved? Can Eduardo learn to like Blu? Can Blu not fly into or trip over every little obstacle in the Amazon rain forest?
“Rio 2” is the sequel to the highly successful “Rio” from 2011. It maintains the bright colors, catchy music, acrobatic dance numbers and mostly the same cast of goofy characters as the last film. Keeping the formula almost exactly the same as the first popular film may be this installment’s biggest weakness.
The character of Blu has not changed a bit since the first film. While this is desirable for an animated film sequel aimed at children, it tends to wear thin fairly quickly. Blu is a walking disaster area; an accident looking for a place to happen. He’s an insecure stammering mess that seems to be modeled after the character Woody Allen has played numerous times. Blu wears out his welcome pretty quickly. There should have been some growth and maturity of Blu as he is now a husband and father. Instead he stumbles around into one disaster after another; from being tied to a fireworks rocket to accidently starting a war between the blue macaws and the scarlet macaws over feeding territory. His ineptitude knows no bounds, except for when he has to be the hero when the story requires it. It’s a very familiar plot that has been done countless times and has been done better.
The story also seems to be padded and stretched out somewhat longer than it needed to be. There is a subplot involving the aforementioned scarlet macaws that seems to be a tacked on idea from an entirely different movie. They actually wasted what could have been a major part of the plot of “Rio 3” in this film. There are also some montage scenes that go on too long and lose some of their comedic punch. “Rio 2” is an example of how more is not always better.
That said, the animation is beautiful with the flight of the birds being graceful and appearing quite natural. The colors of the rainforest are vibrant and striking. The bright flowers and colorful animals pop off the screen and not just because I saw the 3D version. There is a decent amount of humor in the film. It works about three-quarters of the time but is sometimes pounded into the ground with repetition. There are several song and dance numbers in the movie. Some of these are reminiscent of those old Busby Berkley musicals of the 1930’s and 1940’s. There are intricate patterns created by the flock of blue macaws as they fly and circle in the air. The combination of catchy music and interesting choreography makes for a visual treat.
The biggest fault I find with the film is it doesn’t work on both the level of children and adults. The recent “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” was a kid’s movie that also had plenty of entertainment for adults. The same can be said for “Muppets Most Wanted” and “The Lego Movie.” “Rio 2” seems to be aimed squarely at children with only a small amount of humor that works on both levels. That doesn’t make the movie unwatchable for anyone over 15 years old, but it isn’t as enjoyable an experience as any of those previously mentioned films.
“Rio 2” is rated G and does contain some animated violence. It is very mild and shouldn’t trouble even the youngest children.
“Rio 2” opened with $39-million, an amount nearly identical to what the first film opened with. Parents trying to entertain their little ones could do much worse than this sequel. It has lots of color and funny talking animals. There is a strong ecological message that doesn’t beat the audience over the head and it manages a few laughs here and there. Sadly, it isn’t consistently funny enough for adults to make it as enjoyable an experience as it should be for children. Maybe parents can play Candy Crush or Angry Birds during the movie to keep them occupied. Just remember to turn off the sound.
“Rio 2” gets three guitars out of five.
Five new films grace screens this week. Vote for the next movie I see and review.
A Haunted House 2—Crossing new lines and breaking old barriers, A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 is the sequel to the hilarious box-office hit starring Marlon Wayans as Malcolm who, after exorcising the demons of his ex, is starting fresh with his new girlfriend and her two children. After moving into their dream home, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events.
Bears—Filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey chronicle a year in the lives of an Alaskan brown bear named Sky and her cubs, Scout and Amber. Their saga begins as the bears emerge from hibernation at the end of winter. As time passes, the bear family must work together to find food and stay safe from other predators, especially other bears.
Heaven is Real—A little boy (Connor Corum) says that he visited heaven during a near-death experience and tells his astonished parents (Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly) about things he couldn't possibly know.
The Raid 2—He thought it was over. After fighting his way out of a building filled with gangsters and madmen - a fight that left the bodies of police and gangsters alike piled in the halls - rookie Jakarta cop Rama thought it was done and he could resume a normal life. He couldn't have been more wrong.
Transcendence—A terminally ill scientist downloads his mind into a computer. This grants him power beyond his wildest dreams, and soon he becomes unstoppable.
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres.
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
Questions or comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.
By the way, if you’re looking for a strange but entertaining little film, check out “Cheap Thrills.” It is in very limited release in theatres but is available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, $6.99 to rent and $14.99 to buy. It’s the story of a man desperate for money and lengths he’s willing to go to get it. It’s unlike anything you’ll see in theatres.