Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Blu, as voiced by Jesse Eisenberg in this animate movie ‘Rio’, is an extremely rare Blue Macaw who never learned how to fly. Years ago in his native Brazil Blu fell out his nest as a little birdling, or sapling, or whatever they called baby birds and was kidnapped by evil bird-nappers. Circumstance led to baby Blu falling out of a truck and being rescued by young Linda, who will eventually be voiced by Leslie Mann, and raised in the life of relative bird luxury. Thus the need to fly never became necessary.

Years later Linda is a young woman who runs a book store, Blu is still alive because apparently Blue Macaws have the same lifespan of humans, and the two are lifelong friends. Only friends actually considering Linda’s only avenue for communication seems to be through a large blue bird.

Then Dr. Tulio (Rodrigo Sanchez) shows up from Brazil alerting Linda with the glorious news that they have just captured the lone known surviving female Blue Macaw and would love for the two of them take a trip down below the equator so the birds can meet and do that natural thing, and thus save the species. Linda says no. Apparently Linda wants to see the entire Blue Macaw species exterminated. How selfish is that? Eventually she realizes how ridiculously selfish this is and it’s off to Rio and to Carnival! Woohoo!

Things don’t go so well in Rio because upon meeting Jewel the female Blue Macaw (Anne Hathaway), she proceeds to assault poor Blu. Jewel’s main goal is to escape captivity, being as how she doesn’t trust humans and stuff considering our tireless efforts to make her species extinct. Bigger problems await because Jewel and Blu are kidnapped from the safety of their benevolent human overseers by more evil bird-nappers who plan to make a fortune off this rare duo. Pay close attention to Nigel the evil cockatoo (Jermaine Clement) as he has the best lines in the movie.

Eventually Blu and Jewel break free, which wasn’t easy considering the two birds are chained together and one of them can’t fly, but they get loose. They befriend a kindly Toucan Rafael (George Lopez) who takes these star crossed lovers on a road trip to get unchained from each other, Linda and Tulio are also looking for the birds, Nigel the evil cockatoo and his legion of crazy monkeys are looking for the birds and all of this madness is taking place in the middle of a Carnival parade. You know what would be cool? If Blu knew how to fly. I wonder is that going to happen at anytime in this movie?

‘Rio’ is perfectly fine, perfectly standard, perfectly predictable CGI animated family fair. One issue though. Lionel Richie wrote and performed a lot of songs in his glorious career but there is one song he did which is without discussion the worst song he has ever made, arguably the worst song ever made and that would be ‘Say You, Say Me’. I know he won an Oscar for and all, but what an awful song. It’s no wonder that Jewel went nuts and tried to murder poor Blu when Dr. Tulio put that song on to spur the seeds of love. Good Lord I hate that song. But the stench of ‘Say You, Say Me’ all went away when Nigel the evil cockatoo sang the best ‘I’m a evil dude’ song since ‘Mr. Grinch’. ‘Like an abandoned school, I have no principles’? Come on man, that’s classic. Who thought of that line because that man or woman deserves a Pabst Blue Ribbon. They ruined it by cueing up ‘Say You, Say Me’ again when Tulio and Linda looked deeply into each other’s eyes, I mean they could’ve easily dusted off ‘Three Times a Lady’ or even ‘Endless Love’ but they went with ‘Say You, Say Me’.

Outside of using Lionel’s worst ever song, if there is a problem with ‘Rio’ it would be that these animated movies are starting to run together a bit with their similarities. They all seem to be star-crossed love stories using the same storyline, but with a hook. In this one it’s birds in Rio. ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ had gnomes as the hook, ‘Megamind’ had a superhero hook, ‘Rango’ had a spaghetti western hook, even though ‘Rango’ did go far beyond what we usually see in these movies, but the list goes on. ‘Rio’ is entertaining but it is still more of the same.

I’m also on record whining about using big name stars in faceless animated roles but after hearing two words coming out of Blu’s mouth it’s pretty clear that this is Jesse Eisenberg and that works for his character. The voice acting is stellar across the board, which is not surprising considering the high caliber talent involved, even though the one guy I’ve barely heard of… Jermaine Clement as Nigel the evil Cockatoo… stole the show.

The animation was flawless, the gigabytage used by Blue Sky Studio had to been immense to produce the amazing images they put on the screen. I avoid 3D like the plague so I saw the 2D version and can’t comment on the 3D but I heard it was nice.

As we mentioned earlier ‘Rio’ is an entertaining movie and a movie worth seeing, but these animated movies are starting to get a little blurry. They need to set themselves apart a bit, and stop using the worst songs made by great artists. ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ actually used Elton John’s ‘I’m still Standing’. Seriously. That’s like having access to Michael Jackson’s catalog and going with ‘The Girl is Mine’.

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