"Rio", the new animated film from the minds who brought us the popular "Ice Age", has a good heart and a good idea going for it. I imagine that much like another 2011 animation, "Mars Needs Moms", its concept could have gone to waste through an overly sentimental tone and a lack of depth and humor; but that is not close to what happens. Most animated films I watch end up being great, good, or very rarely bad/mediocre. Those who work in animation often have the imaginations necessary to create something fun, yet simplistic. Unlike "Rango", which is so far one of my favorite films of the year, "Rio" is not good because it is a satire, or made by someone who you would least expect to deliver a film like that; it's good because it works, and it is simple.
So it's not great, but it doesn't need to be. The kids will most likely love it and the experience is pleasant enough, and easy on the adults. This is good; because if you're having trouble choosing between this and "Mars Needs Moms" when it comes to a truly family-friendly movie night, here's an easy selection. Its heart is in the right place, and you get what you expect. There's plenty of appeal to it, and although it lacks any sort of depth or narrative complexity, I enjoyed myself.
In Rio, which is located in Brazil, a blue macaw is captured from his home and is scheduled to be brought to a new one; although the crate he's in falls from the back of the truck that's handling him and other birds, and he is left to be discovered by a young girl named Linda (Leslie Mann). This is the same girl that raises him, and names him Blu (Jessie Eisenberg). They live a happy life, as Linda runs a book store, with Blu just living the life as it is. He knows not of his origins, and frankly; he doesn't seem to care. The fact that he grew up under the wing of a human being makes him socially awkward around other birds; much like a young boy who has been homeschooled all of his life.
One day, Blu is given the chance to return back to Rio; as an ornithologist (Rodrigo Santoro) offers to take him and Linda on a trip to the place in order for Blu to make with another blue macaw. Linda takes the guy up on the offer, and they're on their way. Shortly after arriving, Blu meets his arranged "mate", who is named Jewel (Anne Hathaway). They don't seem to get along at first, but they're going to have to if they're going to survive in Rio for the next few days. It is the time of the Carnaval, and people are actually quite busy; including a villainous Cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement, who makes good use of his vocal skills) and his owners, who have plans to capture both Jewel and Blu and use them for their own selfish desires.
Along the way, the duo meets two rapping songbirds (Will.I.am and Jamie Foxx), a slobbering bulldog (Tracy Morgan), pickpocketing monkeys, and a toucan named Rafael (George Lopez), who seems to know plenty about Rio; but little about its more cynical inhabitants.
Each character is brought to life by their voice actors. Eisenberg fits the role of his socially inept macaw perfectly, as he's played such characters many times before (think "The Social Network" or "Zombieland"). Hathaway has charisma and character as the love interest of Blu, while Lopez is funny and entertaining as the toucan. A lot about the casting impressed me; but what impressed me even more was the look of the film. It might not be as pretty as a Pixar animation, but the colors were lush and pretty to look at; which was good enough for me. Even better, the filmmakers get a good "feel" for the film to match its visual style, in the service of catchy original music and dialogue that usually snaps. If there's one REAL problem about "Rio", I'd have to say it's the film's sense of humor. In moments, it can be very, very funny (see the scene where the animal characters walk through Nigel's dungeon-like closet area where he keeps plenty of birds, one going mad, and one not a bird at all), and then there were just some jokes that just fell, well...flat. But you've got a good idea and you've got an audience. There's nothing to lose. "Rio" is not flawless, it isn't anything terribly deep, but remember; it's not aiming to be a masterpiece of modern animation. That's not what director Carlos Saldanha wanted to do when he helped direct "Ice Age"; so that's not what he's doing here. Just go with the flow and enjoy "Rio" for what it is; solid family entertainment. Predictable, and without annoyances; which is kind of nice in this case. I quite liked it.
Animated Family films have never exactly impressed me, I feel that they are mostly the type of films that follow a certain formula and sticks to it. Not to say that there hasn’t been some serious successes within this genre; Pixar and Dreamworks have made a lot of profit sticking to those same formulas while changing the way those formulas were told. There is also a light-weight called “Blue Sky Studios” that want a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie, and they have had their … more
Cute -- one simple word that sums up this movie. From its storyline, to its characters and animation, Rio is just all around cute, and it's extra cool knowing that it's voiced by an all-star cast. The story of how Blu, the macaw voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, came to be the companion of human Linda, voiced by Leslie Mann, is a really sweet one. It shows how a very young Linda discovered him when he was just a chick. They've been inseparable since, with Blu becoming … more
Unlike industry moguls Pixar and DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios hasn’t been quite as versatile in their subject-matter when it comes to pumping out computer generated animated feature films. Most people are aware of their ever-growing Ice Age franchise but do keep in mind that these are the guys behind Robots, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, the forthcoming Epic and Charles M Shultz’s long overdue Peanuts CG film. In short these guys have certainly been keeping busy! … more
Star Rating: Rio is a straightforward but exuberant animated film, brought to life in an explosion of color and infectious Latin beats – and, of course, through the process of 3D, that most unstoppable of all recent movie trends. But I won’t dwell on that. Looking at this film was a terrific experience for me; think of an extreme close-up of an artist’s palette, where oil paints are creatively being mixed together. That it employs first-rate … more
U - 96mins - Animation/Adventure/Comedy - 8th April 2011 Rio is an animation from the same people that brought us Ice Age and so it has a fair amount to live up to. It follows the tale of a blue macaw, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) who is bird-napped as a chick and smuggled into the USA to be sold. During the move though, he falls from the back of the truck and is found by Linda (Leslie Mann) who takes him in and looks after him. The years pass by until Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), a extremely bird obsessed … more
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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