Movie Review - Rio the Movie
It's a kind of reverse Jungle Book (1967). A young boy is adopted and raised by people who aren't of the same species until eventually the young boy has to return to his own kind. Rio the Movie doesn't quite have all the power and charm of Nobel Prize-winner Rudyard Kipling's classic, but it is entertaining.
Intead of a human boy named Mowgli being raised by animals, here it's a male bird named Blu being raised by a Midwestern girl named Linda. Instead of Mowgli having to leave the jungle, here it's Blu having to stay in the tropical rainforest. Like with the Disney version of Kipling's story, there are crazy monkeys as well as all kinds of colorful creations and even more colorful songs. It's delightful, but not much more deep than what Kipling wrote.
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) voices the character of Blu, a rare, nearly extinct bird, a Macaw actually, which is an exotic type of parrot from South America. Blu is unwillingly transplanted from South America to Minnesota., and a very enthusiastic, Brazilian man comes to Linda to bring the bird back so that he can mate with another Macaw named Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway.
We're led to believe that these two birds are the last Macaws of their kind, possibly the last two Macaws on Earth. Yes, these birds are endangered, but if the two Macaws were the last two on Earth, I think more than just one eccentric Brazilian would be dispatched to protect them. There's no type of prologue or explanation for this idea that makes it believable, so we're merely expected to accept it. However, right before the two birds are to mate, they're kidnapped. The people who kidnap the birds are given no motive or reason why they're doing this. We assume for money, but it's not made clear and anything beyond that is brushed off.
What's introduced is the fact that Blu is afraid to fly. He resists flying even when it will save his life, but, without spoiling the ending, it's easy to guess what he's going to end up doing by the final frame. The film follows very predictable routes and hits a lot of cliché points. The movie is set in Rio de Janeiro, so like with all movies set there we get a rooftop chase over the favelas.
Hathaway's character does make some interesting arguments regarding having an animal as a pet versus letting that animal run or in this case fly free. Those arguments are seemingly crescendoing to a point where you think a choice is going to be made that will have some dramatic weight, but that's not the climax of this movie. The filmmakers make the climax instead a lame choice of whether Blu will fly.
There are some funny moments and a crazy song by Miguel, a cannibalistic cockatoo. I really enjoyed a Samba rap in the middle of it by Will.i.am, the musician. The bright lights and rainbow-like designs of a Carnival parade was visually stunning, but it's not enough to bring Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox Animation any closer to the near perfection of Pixar.
Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG for mild off-color humor.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.