Just like its blue feathered protagonist, Rio has the look yet doesn’t soar to the heights needed to make this animated adventure / musical hybrid work.
20th Century Fox are not the best bet when it comes to animated features. Outside of Horton Hears A Who?, it’s hard to find a Fox animated title worth recommending, which is ironic considering the rich material found in their TV work (The Simpsons, King of the Hill, etc.)
Unfortunately, Rio continues that trend. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Blu, a rare macaw smuggled out of sunny Rio de Janiero and lost in transit in chilly Minnesota, where he is found and raised by bookish Linda (Leslie Mann). When it’s revealed that Blu is the last of his kind, he is taken back to Rio to get busy with a female macaw named Jewel (Anne Hathaway).
Yet this pretty bird won’t give it up that easily, escaping from her glass cage with a chained Blu in tow. Problem is he’s a neurotic, domesticated mess who can’t fly, and smugglers keen on getting their grubby hands on his blue feathers are giving chase.
And so an adventure begins through the slums, streets and jungles of Rio, under the presence of Christ the Redeemer (of course never spoken of to keep the secularists happy), as Blu and Jewel try to keep one step ahead with help from varied winged creatures (voiced by the likes of George Lopez and Jamie Foxx).
Rio directed by Carlos Saldanha. He is Fox’s go to guy, responsible for the Ice Age series and the underrated Robots (the second best Fox animated release). Born and raised in Rio de Janiero, there is no doubt he took great pleasure in promoting his country via the animation medium. It’s just a shame he didn’t make a good movie while doing so.
While a visually jubilant adventure, the plot, characterisations and gags in Rio are colourless. Throughout characters preach about passion and love for life, yet Rio is a film that lacks the spirit and rhythm to sell its message. Even the depiction of flight, which is usually so good in 3D, fails to thrill.
(Yes, Rio is a 3D release, although you won’t remember why afterwards).
Voice work is mediocre at best. Eisenberg plays neurotic, Hathaway does spunky, and Lopez is a disgruntled family man (surprise!). The only stand out is Jamie Clement, who lends his dry Kiwi draw to a villainous cockatoo who works for the smugglers.
What does work are the visuals, with its glorious display of colour and nicely crafted animation. Yet a pretty picture does not make a good animated movie, and nor do third rate Black Eye Peas compositions make for an enjoyable soundtrack, with sporadic musical moments featuring musician Will I.Am not in the slightest bit catchy or entertaining.
Average at best, Rio is a pretty failure not worth spending the extra bucks on for 3D goggles. A wait for the DVD release is advised.