Movie Review

Rio the Movie

1 out of every 8 Americans is afraid of flying. Most of them don't have feathers.
Rio the Movie Movie Poster

US Release Date: 04-15-2011

Directed by: Carlos Saldanha


  • Jesse Eisenberg
  • Blu (voice)
  • Anne Hathaway
  • Jewel (voice)
  • Leslie Mann
  • Linda (voice)
  • Rodrigo Santoro
  • Tulio (voice)
  • Jemaine Clement
  • Nigel (voice)
  • George Lopez
  • Rafael (voice)
  • Tracy Morgan
  • Luiz (voice)
  • Jake T. Austin
  • Fernando (voice)
  • Wanda Sykes
  • Chloe (The Goose) (voice)
  • Jane Lynch
  • Alice (The Other Goose) (voice)
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Nico (voice)
  • Will i Am
  • Pedro (voice)
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: April 23rd, 2011
Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway voice the macaws in Rio.

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.

Reviewed on: August 5th, 2013
Rio-by the sea-o, you and me-o.

Rio-by the sea-o, you and me-o.

After watching Rio, my very first thought was, “Well at least the animation was colorful.” Then I read Scott’s review, who agrees, "There is lots of color and movement." Noting the animation as the best aspect of a movie says a lot about the rest of the film.

The most glaring problem is that Blu is not a likable character. As Scott wrote, he is a pampered pet. When with Jewel, he is a hindrance. He whines and is scared to fly. Had he been written as a bird yearning to fly but because his tail feathers were kept trimmed to keep him as a domesticated pet he cannot, I would have better felt his plight over flight. Instead of just learning to fly and overcoming his fear, his tail feathers could have grown back in. Thus Blu would have been a brave character who wants to spread his wings instead of the annoyingly needy blue bird we see here. When Jewel explains to Blu that, “Flying is freedom, and, and not having to rely on anyone. Don't you want that?” Blu responds, “I don't know. Sounds a little lonely.”

Okay, so there are a few funny bits. My favorite line being, “This is the coolest place I've ever seen! You know, despite the obvious health code violations!” The story also has some character development. Linda and Tulio fall in love, as do Jewel and Blu. Fernando, a boy who works with the bird smugglers, has a change of heart. The big moment is intended when Linda finally finds Blu but instead of running to her for safety, Blu decides instead to help Jewel.

Still, the only things I was impressed at all with were two animated scenes. The first was the training to fly scene where Blu and Jewel jump off a cliff and onto several hand gliders before ending up on Copacabana Beach. The other was the climactic chase through the Samba Parade. Both are fast paced scenes with plenty of eye candy. However, eye candy alone has never been enough to make a movie great.

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