- RatedG /GenreAdventure, Animation, Comedy
There couldn’t have been a better time to release the sequel to 2011’s ‘Rio’ than this year. Brazil’s World Cup hosting duties means all eyes will be on the country.
While the subject of illegal wildlife trade was tackled in the first movie, the pro-environment stance continues in this sequel, which carries an anti-deforestation message. But of course, it’s all swathed in pretty colours and talking birds to make it palatable for the children.
The 3D animated film sees the return of Blu the Spix’s macaw (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, ‘The Social Network'), now nesting with his partner Jewel (Anne Hathaway, ‘Les Miserables’) in a bird sanctuary in Rio De Janeiro with young parrots of their own, Carla, Bia and Tiago.
In the first movie, he was an awkward, overly domesticated parrot who thought he couldn’t fly. In the sequel, he is now a father of three and still awkward.
When the parrots discover there are more of their kind somewhere in the Amazon, Blu has to give up modern comforts (such as pancakes and TV) to fly 2,000 miles with his family to find the endangered flock.
There are bigger ideas at play in this movie, such as raising children and keeping them connected to their roots. As Jewel puts it to Blu before they leave for the Amazon: “We’re not people, we’re birds! We have to get out into the wild and be birds.”
In the jungle, Blu is like a fish out of water, having to grapple with creepy bugs and cracking Brazil nuts (he used to get them straight out of the can). There is added competition for his wife’s affections in the form of parrot pin-up boy Roberto (played wonderfully by singer Bruno Mars) who is everything Blu is not. There is even a “meet the parents” moment with Jewel’s human-hating father Eduardo (Andy Garcia).
More trouble brews in the form of thespian cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement), a former foe and now a flightless bird (following a plane accident in ‘Rio’), who trails Blu with the sole purpose of taking him down. Accompanied by a loved-up poison dart frog Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), and Charlie the anteater, they follow the macaws into the deep Amazon.
Above everything else, the dark cloud of the imminent arrival of loggers into the bird’s territory hangs over the plot.
AN ENTERTAINMENT SPECTACLE
The movie features visually mesmerising song-and-dance sequences, played out in vivid technicolour. In 3D, they look even more spectacular. There is even a football match between rival macaws. (Yes, we get it. The World Cup.)
Moments of genuine humour, generously peppered throughout the film, provided by the supporting cast in the form of yellow canary Nico (Jamie Foxx), red cardinal Pedro (Will.i.am) and bulldog Luiz (Tracy Morgan), lift the film.
The musical entertainment is top class, with the likes of Bruno Mars, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway and the delightful Kristin Chenoweth lending their vocal chops to the production. Even singer Janelle Monae steps in for a song or two.
Having said that, the movie lacks the warmth of the first instalment, where topics such as conquering self-doubt and overcoming fear were handled expertly.
Ultimately the link between environmental conservation and learning to be part of the flock is a tenuous one that is lost in the feathery fray and various subplots.
This certainly won't be half memorable as the first ‘Rio’.
'Rio 2' opens in cinemas 10 April 2014