Film Review – Rio

RIO

Blu, a pet macaw living in snowy Minnesota has his world turned upside down when his owner is persuaded to take him to Rio de Janeiro as part of a breeding program. The last male blue macaw in existence, the idea is to mate him with Jewel the last female. Hampered by being a house pet with an inability to fly and separated from his owner, Blu finds himself in an unknown world at time of Carnival, with only new feathered friends to keep him safe.

The ads for Rio shout “from the team that brought you Ice Age” which is about as offputting a tag as you can come up with, to be honest. Indeed if you look at the director Carlos Sandana’s output or that of writer Don Rhymer, your first instinct would be to give Rio a wide berth. That was certainly my first reponse.

However, I’m glad to say that I was very very wrong.

The first indication I had of this was prior to the screening when I saw the following clip of Nigel the evil cockatiel, voiced by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.

I wasn’t expecting something so smart and on the money and I went into the screening with a much less heavy heart than I had previously expected. Furthermore that’s not the only thing that the movie has going for it. There’s some great vocal talent , Jesse Eisenberg captures the earthbound macaw Blu perfectly, in nerdy glory while Anne Hathaway is the perfect foil as feisty Jewel. Add to that sterling performances from Will i Am, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez and Tracey Morgan and you have a pretty engaging cast. Blu and Jewel’s growing relationship is written in a sweet fashion but the movie has so much more to it than just that.

Nigel, the cockatiel is a superb villain, worthy of Disney, while the two human protagonists, Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), owners of Blu and Jewel respectively are both nerdy, socially awkward and shy. (The same was true in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and I applaud it heartily). Meanwhile, young street kid Fernando, who gets involved in the plot to steal the macaws, is an orphan who lives on the rooftops of Rio. This isn’t done in any kind of mawkish fashion, but it does add something to the storytelling, along with the eco theme of the whole movie.

Furthermore, the 3D is exceptionally good, especially for a couple of scenes where a motorbike is driven along the back streets of Rio. All in all, it’s a class package, and while the other songs are far less memorable, the movie zips along neatly with charm and flair.

This is an excellent film to be released as we head into the Easter break, kids will adore it (the cinema was fully of giggling children) and it’s smart and engaging enough for adults to enjoy too. Indeed, even if you don’t have kids, this is a film I’d recommend to anyone in need of cheering up. Super fun.

Rio is released in the UK on April 8th.

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on April 4, 2011.

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