Movie ReviewsRating: 3 of 5 yaps


“Rio” is fun and forgettable. It’s a competently made animated film crafted specifically for the toddler set, who may enjoy the bright colors and boingy action. Older kids and parents will find themselves, if not quite bored, only modestly engaged.

Still, it’s got appealing stars like Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg doing the voices, as well as two or three songs worth tapping a toe. I can’t quite recommend it, at least not for anyone north of kindergarten age, but the cinematic world is not poorer for having it around.

This film is from Blue Sky Studios, the animation outfit behind those middlebrow “Ice Age” flicks, and director Carlos Saldanha takes a break from prehistoric mammals for a story about modern-day tropical birds. The original — and I use that term loosely — screenplay is by Don Rhymer, veteran of bottom-dwelling comedies like “Big Momma’s House” and “Deck the Halls.”

Eisenberg voices Blu, a rare blue macaw poached from his Brazilian rainforest home as a young’un and shipped to frozen Moose Lake, Minnesota. Things worked out, though, and he was adopted by Linda, a kindhearted bookworm of a girl who grew into the owner of a bookshop (Leslie Mann, in a nice emotive vocal performance).

True, he’s a nervous Nellie who’s a little too fond of his domesticated lifestyle and never got around to learning to fly. But he’s happy.

Or was, until Linda gets talked into bringing him back to Rio de Janeiro by Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), an avian scientist. It seems he’s got the only female blue macaw left in the world and Linda has the only male (no word on how Tulio learned this fact, I should note), and in order to save the species, they’ve got to make some beautiful eggs together.

But it turns out the lady-in-waiting, Jewel (Hathaway), is not so patient with the dweeby Blu, wanting only to escape to freedom. They’re bird-napped by an unscrupulous thief, chained together and spend the rest of the movie in one big chase to see if they can escape the bad guys, fall in love and learn to fly (not necessarily in that order).

The Rio viewed in this movie is the prototypical image of sun-kissed beaches, colorful buildings and fun-loving people who are perpetually partying in the street. That Rio de Janeiro doesn’t exist for me anymore after the bleak truth of “City of God,” knowing the paint-splashed tin-roof domiciles hide a festering cancer of crime and crushing poverty. It’s not fair, but I resented this movie from trying to pull the veil back over Rio.

Though predictable, the film is not without its charms, derived mostly from a large cast of colorful — and mostly feathered — critters. Jamie Foxx and play a pair of local birds who offer Blu romantic advice and croon a soulful tune or two. George Lopez voices Rafael, a toucan and family man who’d prefer to party at Carnival. And Tracy Morgan plays a slobbery bulldog who can’t quite decide if he wants to help the birds or bite their heads off.

Jemaine Clement is a real treat as Nigel, a killer cockatoo who works for the bad guys. He’s a dastardly villain, though in a very PG-rated sort of way, sneering in his featured song, “I poop on people and blame it on seagulls!”

Hathaway sings a little too, and I find the sound of her voice never fails to make me smile. Actually, I think the entire cast sings at one point or another, and even the pinch-voiced Eisenberg adds a stanza or two in a surprisingly pleasing tenor.

I’m torn over “Rio.” There’s enough good stuff here that small children will probably enjoy it, at least in fits, but adults like me will find themselves checking their watches. It never quite achieves liftoff.

3 Yaps

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21 Responses to “Rio”

  1. Alexis says:

    We saw this without kids and still loved it!

  2. Victor Wakley says:

    This movie was pretty good; the 3D helped a lot and the story was great for my kids.

  3. Chukie Nwokorie says:

    Not really sure what the fuss is all about. I loved the movie, my kids enjoyed the movie. It was a great time. It was good entertainment for the family..

  4. Amber Schelle says:

    Looks cute….can’t wait for my boys to see it!

  5. Very Cute movie….The Goddaughter loved it!

  6. Beth Hoban says:

    Our family loved Rio, it was a real winner!

  7. Elizabeth Davis says:

    looking forward to seeing this movie. Have only heard "GREAT" reviews.

  8. Chad says:

    Very fun movie. My three year old loved it.

  9. Gina Fox says:

    I can’t wait to see this movie. I am probably the only 27 year old in the world who will take a day full of animated cartoons over mind bending adventures such as Inception or Memento (though I did enjoy those after seeing them 20 times and finally getting it). I wish the review was a little more promising, but I do enjoy the actors who voice these characters. I am also a sucker for "bright colors and boingy action" so I should still be good to go!

  10. tracie says:

    This movie was delightful and funny. I took my seven-year old and he seemed to really enjoy it because he had laughed long and hard at many screens. I am sure this will be a keeper once it comes out on dvd.

  11. Cody Jones says:

    Great review! Saw "City of God" and I understand how it could blemish your view of Rio De Janeiro. Also, I understood the context that you used in on the peice, unlike some. ;)

    The wife was wanting to see this, so I may be dragged to it nevertheless. Good job.

  12. Keith says:

    I had low expectations for this, and you know what? I enjoyed it. It’s not the most original plot, and it isn’t nearly as entertaining as last year’s Toy Story 3 or Tangled. But I had a lot of fun with the voice cast (especially Eisenberg, who, after Social Network, can hardly do any wrong in my eyes) and the animation. Also, a new John Powell score is always fun.

    While Rio is obviously geared toward the younger crowd, I think Blue Sky does a better job of making their films accessible to any age than Dreamworks. Not as well as Pixar, of course, but I’d rather see Rio again than most of Dreamworks Animation’s lineup. And this year I’m not too interested in talking cars…

  13. Dax says:

    Took the kids to see Rio and the entire famiy enjoyed this film. Good light hearted moments with a variety of the typical laughter rolled in.

  14. Janet J says:

    looking forward to seeing this movie it looks really cute in the trailer :)

  15. Jack Ripple says:

    I am glad that the voices are actors that I like – so I am looking forward to seeing it! Cheers to The Film Yap!

  16. jake says:

    Still, he sounds he needs to get out more. The "festering cancer of crime" may or may not have been realistically represented in City Of God, but it isn’t like that now. I get the impression that if he visited Rio’s favelas, he wouldn’t find them gritty or realistic enough.

  17. Joe Shearer says:

    I’ll let Chris chime in beyond this comment, but again I don’t believe he was trying to say the movie Rio was painting an inaccurate picture of the city. He was saying he has a hard time seeing the city in any other light after watching "City of God," knowing that poverty and crime of that level exists in that city.

  18. Tony says:

    What you saw in City of God doesn’t represent the whole reality of the city. It was a pretty restricted area that nowadays is occupied by the police and the peace is back to his inhabitants. Even President Obama visited it there when he was in Rio last month.
    And you can ask anyone who has ever visited Rio if what they show in the movie isn’t true. The colors, the hospitality, the happiness and the mixture of the people.

  19. Joe Shearer says:

    Jake, far be it from me to speak for Chris, but I think what he was trying to say was that since seeing "City of God," he has a hard time seeing Rio as anything but the city depicted in that film. He also acknowledges that having that feeling toward "Rio" the movie isn’t entirely fair. if you look again. I think he’s speaking more to "City of God"’s power than he is in trying to criticize "Rio" (though he is certainly doing so as well). In other words, he has a hard time putting the toothpaste back in the tube after seeing such a striking film (I agree with him, though I wasn’t exactly thinking of "City of God" while watching "Rio").

    I do like your analogy though, although it’s not a completely accurate assessment of what Chris is saying here.

  20. Jake says:

    Firstly, Rio has had much documented major clean-up on crime since "City of God", I went as a tourist to the favelas earlier this year and felt completely safe. Secondly, you claim the portrayal of RIO isn’t realistic – and you are basing your knowledge on that place on ANOTHER film. That’s like saying "It’s unrealistic that Natalie Portman performs Swan Lake in a New York theatre as New York was completely destroyed by those things in Cloverfield." If you had seen Rio before City of God, would you complain that the birds don’t talk?