Another animal movie?
At least it’s not about cats or dogs (although there is a dog here…) And to be fair, I can’t think of another kids film about BIRDS. Rio is advertised as “From the creators of Ice Age“. If anything, if feels a lot like Dreamwork’s Madagascar. In fact, there is a scene in Rio that’s exactly like Madagascar. This scene takes place in a jungle, and involves monkeys. If you have seen the film, you know what I’m talking about.
Rio features a wide variety of birds of many different colours, species, and personalities. The main bird character here is Blu, a macaw who was taken out of his natural habitat at infancy. Somehow he ends up at a young girl’s doorstep and they both grow up together. We switch between the human and the bird perspective frequently throughout the film, so the narrative becomes slightly unfocused. Throw in many side characters for the sake of selling more happy meal toys, and what we have is a very messy story.
The animation of Rio is surprisingly good. The feathers on the birds look very detailed, the way the birds fly around is captivating, and the environments are bursting with flavour. In a way, this film lets you experience what it’s like to be in Rio. There are a few song segments scattered here and there, but they were mostly redundant. One song in particular was used to introduce the villainous bird, and it dragged on for too long. There is, however, a song which was used as a recurring joke, and that was hilarious to me. Rio is not scary at all and there isn’t much danger anywhere, so it’s definitely safe for the younger kids without giving them nightmares.
The voice acting for all the characters is pretty good, the most unique being Jessie Eisenberg as Blu. Eisenberg has that fast, nerdy voice a la The Social Network, and it makes you wonder if he’s stuck with this kind of character for the rest of his career. Anne Hathaway is Jewel, the love interest for Blu. Her voice is not that recognisable, but she has good comedic timing. Other members of the cast include George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Wanda Sykes, Leslie Mann, Jake T. Austin, Jamie Foxx and Will.I.Am, if any of those names mean anything to you.
I’m sure most people can predict the ending of Rio with an hour still left in the thing. Don’t expect to experience the next Toy Story 3, none of the characters in Rio or any part of the story is anything special. But despite all its genericness, Rio has a good amount of comedy (I laughed out loud many times) and just enough human (and bird) emotion to get you through to the end.