Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway voice the macaws in Rio.
The truly great animated movies appeal to the whole family. Clever filmmakers will include jokes that go over the kiddies heads and keep the grown-ups entertained. Sadly, Rio isn't one of those films. It's quite clearly aimed at very young kids and while it might hit that target, there's very little for adults to enjoy.
Blu is a rare blue Macaw who is captured in the jungles of Brazil when just a little tiny bird and is brought to Minnesota where he is found by a little girl named Linda. She raises Blu and he becomes her best friend. Fifteen years later and an ornithologist comes looking for Blu and convinces Linda to bring him to Rio where he can be mated to a female Macaw named Jewel that they have in captivity. Apparently Blu and Jewel are the last two Blue Macaws in existence and the ornithologist would like to repopulate the species.
As voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, Blu is a bit of a nerd bird. He's been cosseted and babied by Linda his whole life and is wholly unprepared to meet a wild bird like Jewel. Not helping matters is that he's never even learned to fly. He therefore fails to hit it off with Jewel. Granted, he's not given much of a chance as both of them are stolen by bird smugglers who hope to sell them for lots of money. Most of the rest of the film is Blu and Jewel trying to escape and get Blu back to Linda, and possibly fall in love in the meantime.
The cast is strewn with famous voices, but none of them bring all that much to their parts. Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Jane Lynch and others pop up in parts of varying size, but do little to distinguish themselves. Even as big a star as Anne Hathaway currently is, does little to make her part memorable. Anyone could have voiced her role. George Lopez and Jemaine Clement are about the only two who really sell their part. Clement is particularly good as the villainous bird who is bitter about being a former television star.
There is lots of color and movement. The story takes place during Carnivale in Rio and the story oftentimes seems like a travel advert for the city. Director, Carlos Saldanha, was born in Rio and the love he has for his hometown is apparent. It certainly comes across as a beautiful place and if it seems a touch sanitized, it can be forgiven seeing as how it's a children's film.
It seems that every other movie released these days is put out in 3-D and Rio is one of them. While some movies benefit by the technology, Rio gets absolutely nothing from it except an extra $5 per ticket. Never have I felt so ripped off by the extra fee as I did with this film. The 3-D doesn't look that good and it adds not a single thing to the jokes or the scenery. In fact, it may even hurt the film by dulling the colors. Try taking your glasses off while watching and you'll notice, that while it's blurry, the colors are much more vivid and vibrant.
There are the occassional moments I laughed at and the young children in the theater with me, did seem to be enjoying themselves. Still, unless you have very young kids to take with you, there's no reason at all for you to see it.
Photos © Copyright Twentieth Century Fox Animation (2011)