RIO 2 – 2014

Director Carlos Saldanha
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx,
Screenplay Don Rhymer, Carlos Kotkin, Jenny Bicks, Yoni Brenner

Rio was a beautiful success in 2011, despite having an all to familiar story and some ridiculous characters.  The film has one of the most beautiful color palettes in recent memory and it’s sequel is even richer in this department. It’s a huge advantage to be granted access to the Amazon River with all of its natural beauty. There is a concern that they’ve brought back a worn out bad cockatoo (Clement) and that we’re required to listen to Rodrigo Santoro for any time.  Their screen time is minimal enough and the new characters ample enough that the effect is mitigated.

The story concerns Jewel (Hathaway) and Blue (Eisenberg), who have decided to follow Linda (Mann) and her husband (Rodrigo) when they go into the forest looking for more Spix’s macaws, which were believed to have been extinct from the wild due to massive deforestation of the Caatinga. The Spix macaws they discover happen to be related to Jewel.  We get to be introduced to her father (Garcia) and Jewel’s childhood friend grown up to be a stud (Mars). Linda gets a dose of renegade illegal loggers who lead by one guy in the city.

Among the many side plots, we have a warring tribe of Macaws who do battle  with a soccer type match in the air. Then there’s all the odd birds that come with Blue and Jewel, apparently so they can put on a show with Nigel in the lead.

If it seems like a lot going on, it could be due to the plethora of writers.  This really can’t be blamed on the production, as original screenwriter Rhymer died during the early stages of writing its sequel.  It’s not much consolation when one has to labor through all the stupid stuff, but this time they’ve actually been able to put the conservation story in the correct context.

The battle over the forest runs the gamut from inventive (taking the keys) to the downright stupid (anything with Nigel and Mars’ Roberto freaking out). The message really resonated with my 11-year-old, Em, and I didn’t have to explain to her how far off the message was from the reality.

There is nothing here that fills me with a wish to watch the movie again, but I don’t feel like time wasted.  Blue actually advances as a character, if no one else does.  The voices are all entertaining enough, if you discount Santoro.  The animation is wonderful and Em loves that she gets the chance to see these new cultures.  I don’t mind that either, when it’s not dumb as hell.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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