Rio and Rio 2: Review

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Blue Sky’s Rio and Rio 2 remind me a lot of Disney’s Bolt.  They are entertaining to watch, pleasant to look at, but in the end kind of forgettable.  That said, you will enjoy the experience of watching them so it is a mixed bag

In Rio we meet Blu who is a rare blue macaw living as a pet with his owner in Minnesota.  He is a completely domesticated bird and does not know how to fly.  Blu is voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and he is one of the many poor voicework choices in the movie.  Especially once they get to Brazil the voices don’t make any sense and are forgettable.  I found Eisenberg’s nasal nervous quality to be very grating so it was not a good choice.

Blu’s owner is contacted by a man from Brazil who has found another blue macaw and he is hopeful the two birds can mate and he successfully convinces the owner to bring Blu to Rio to try it out.

rio coupleThe girl macaw is named Jewel and is voiced by Anne Hathaway in another poor choice.  If a bird is supposed to be exotic living in Rio is Anne Hathaway the exotic voice that comes to mind?  Not for me.  Really George Lope and Rodrigo Santoro are the only voice actors in the cast who give it any kind of Portugese flair.

The rest of the cast we have Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Clement, Leslie Mann, etc.

Of all the voices the only one I liked was Jermaine Clement as the bad Cockatoo named Nigel.  He is very funny and reminded me of Tim Curry.

rio villainsThe basic plot is pretty standard cat and mouse chase game with Jewel and Blu getting birdnapped by Nigel’s owner and the awkward Blu getting used to the tropical environment, bickering and romancing with Jewel, and learning to fly.  It’s all very predictable but in an entertaining way.

The colors and the light in the film are gorgeous and it looks beautiful throughout.  The animation quality holds up to any other studio.

Rio-Movie-Wallpaper-2But the music I could have done without.  Not a single number stood out or was memorable.  I really didn’t think the story needed to be  a musical, especially with a lead like Eisenberg who isn’t exactly known as a singer.

Some of the music does give a latin feel but this could have been accomplished with a the score and not the extended musical numbers that don’t do anything for the story and are just kind of average.

So of course our bickering couple end up in love and going back to their owners to live together (who also fall in love at the end of the movie).

The strongest part of the movie is Nigel.  He is very funny and an intense villain for this kind of story. I could have used even more of him and less of the singing.

Like I said, Rio is a perfectly adequate movie.  It looks great and clips along pretty well and kids will enjoy some of the humor (although they might get a little bored in some of the extended songs or the underwhelming action) but I think they will probably like it.

A warning to parents- there is a scene at Carnival where the human owner voiced by Leslie Mann is wearing an extremely skimpy outfit for a kids movie.  It felt rather garish to me.

rio-carnival-scene

But other than that there is nothing offensive or crass.  Rio has a sweetness about it and it is an ok flick.

Overall Grade- C+

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So then we got Rio 2 this summer and I’m afraid to say it but I thought it was weaker than the original.

To start with it has all the weaknesses of the original with weak voice cast (although a hip hop influence with Bruno Mars and Will I Am was a fun addition), predictable plot and underwhelming musical numbers. It still looks fabulous but it doesn’t really surprise the viewers or do anything new.  It all feels very tired even though it looks great.

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In this story Blue and Jewel have baby birds and they live in a life of pancakes and ipods and Jewel is worried they will have forgotten their roots.  She yearns for the wild and through a variety of circumstances they end up in Rio looking for their owners (who have married since the original).

The big mistake this movie makes is it draws each step out too long and it is very cluttered.  Where the strength of the original was Nigel, in this film you have Nigel for brief spurts than a Big Boss who wants to tear down the rainforest (yawn of a villain), and a red macaw clan who don’t like the blue macaws.   They even face the red macaws in an extended soccer scene. Rio_2_Loggers_-_Big_Boss

rio 3Nigel_and_GabiNigel is a theater man in Rio 2 and not quite the villain of the original.  He’s still my favorite character in the Rio movies but I wish they had just focused on him instead of the other storylines and villains which are much more predictable.

Jewel finds out there are other living blue macaws and they eventually find a massive colony in the amazon (they must have not been looking very hard to miss that many blue macaws!).  It turns out it is the flock Jewel grew up in and it is ran by her father

Rio_2_-_Verry_MacawsJewel likes being in the wild and Blu hates it.  Blu’s new father in law thinks he’s a wimp.  There’s a long soccer match in the middle and a ton of side characters and attempt at humor that doesn’t really work.

Nigel has a side character that is a little poisonous frog voiced by Kristen Chenoweth and she sings a song called Poisonous Love which feels so out of place in the movie.  It’s a gorgeous operatic number and the divine Kristen of course can sing well but it does not fit the style of the movie at all.  But she is a cute character and watching her fall in love with Nigel is funny.

rio2There are so many characters we could list them all day but the George Lopez toucan who is head over heels in love with his wife bird is cute and I liked Bruno Mars as Jewel’s childhood friend and her father’s right hand bird.

So in the end, Rio 2 looks great, has some appealing characters but the songs are forgettable despite the hip-hop additions and the voicework is still a problem. But your kids will be entertained and it’s not a bad movie.  You could certainly do worse with your kids.  That’s for sure.

I enjoyed watching both Rio and Rio 2.  They are far from perfect but the colors are bright, they look gorgeous, Nigel is a lot of fun as a villain,  and the characters are engaging enough even if not on the Pixar/Disney quality level.  They just need to work on simplifying the stories and making them more interesting and getting better voice talent not necessarily famous voices.

Overall Grade- C

39 thoughts on “Rio and Rio 2: Review

  1. Ah man, I really enjoyed Jesse’s work on Blu. I thought he really fit with what they were trying to do with the character as a twitchy, smart-aleck domesticated bird. I also thought Anne Hathaway did a really good job with Jewel, playing a rather strong female character in my mind.

    That being said, I agree with your overall assessment of the movie. I enjoyed Bolt more than most, so maybe that’s why Rio is on my guilty pleasures list🙂

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    1. I didnt hate it. I thought they were fun movies just not top tier film. Didnt you think Jewel should have had an exotic voice for being an exotic special bird in Rio? Nigel was my favorite part of the movies. Funny villain

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    2. The Rio movies reminded me of Happy Feet movies but I liked the voice choices and music better in Happy Feet. Do you like those movies? I guess you could say they are my guilty pleasure. I should do a review of them one of these days. I think movies tend to fall into 3 camps- great, solid, and terrible. Rio movies and Happy Feet would be in the solidly entertaining camp.

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      1. Happy Feet was a guilty pleasure of mine that basically got replaced by Rio. I never liked the style of animation where they try to be as real as possible (then just film the darn thing live-action!) so I think Rio pleases my eye a lot more (especially with all the colors, as you’ve mentioned). Both have some catchy music, and I love when characters sing in films, so yes, I do like Happy Feet. I was okay with Jewel having a normal accent. In my opinion, main characters get a pass on the accent (imagine of Belle and the Beast had accents, but Lumiere having one is totally okay with me!).

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      2. That’s a good point about lead characters. I guess i just get annoyed when white people (and voices) are telling the stories of ethnic people. It’s like the movie Glory why does a white soldier have to be the narrator for a story about a black regiment? I still like the movie it would just have been nice for someone like Penelope Cruz to voice Jewel. Felt the same way about voices of Book of Life.
        But anyways I agree with you on Happy Feet and Rio. They are very similar. I can see what you are saying. The colors are wonderful in Rio. I enjoyed watching it.

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      3. I enjoyed watching them. A movie doesn’t have to be perfect for me to have a good time. I find it is better in life to be happy and enjoy everything you can. Then when you dont like something people know you are serious😉

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  2. I would disagree about Rio. I’d say it actually deserves a B because I’d say the characters are memorable and I thought a couple of the songs at least were enjoyable. Rio 2 I would definitely agree about being a mixed bag though. That one I would agree with you giving a C. I also agree that they should have focused on Nigel more.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. They are fun movies in a lot of ways. I didn’t think the characters were that memorable except for Nigel and the little frog in the 2nd one. The rest we’ve seen before.

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    1. They were very clever to release it when nothing else was out. Same thing with the dreck The Nut Job- which Rio 2 is a million times better than that.

      The studios were all very smart with their family film releases this year. January was the perfect time to release the Nut Job because January usually means sucky movies, Lego could dominate February, Mr Peabody and Sherman was #1 in March, than Rio 2 had no competition in April, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was only family film in June. Planes 2 was in July and did pretty well. The only one’s that really competed was Boxtrolls and Book of Life but they were still separated enough. Big Hero 6 was on it’s own as far as family films. The only one left is Song of the Sea in December I believe.

      Only one turkey this year at the box office with Legends of Oz and that was well deserved. It was an embarrassment to have Oz in title.

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      1. You are nuts! It was painful to watch. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure the animation class at my local community college could have done better.

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      2. I have to wonder if they ran out of money or something. It didn’t look finished. The animation was so bad it was shocking. I have a huge attachment to The Wizard of Oz and have hated all of the follow ups Oz the Great and Powerful, Legends of Oz and Return to Oz are dreadful.
        The voice talent was ok but the characters well dull and songs underwhelming. It was also incredibly slow. I fell asleep more than once and had to go back.
        But mostly it didn’t seem finished.

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      3. Well, this movie has been in production for a LONG time! I remember this movie was supposed to be released since like 2010 or even earlier!

        And I actually really enjoyed ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ and ‘Return to Oz’!

        I just couldn’t dislike this movie. I won’t ever say it’s a good movie. Oh, it definitely is a pretty bad film! But, I loved how fluid the animation was for a third-party animation studio! I loved all these new characters from the books that I’ve never read! I loved hearing Brian Blessed!

        This movie would definitely make my ‘Top 13 Animated Films that I like, But Everyone Else Doesn’t’ list if I were making it now!

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      4. It still looks unfinished. The infamous food fight was years in production and it looks terrible. I thought Legends of Oz looked on that level.
        Yeah we are definitely on opposite ends of spectrum on the Oz movies. I hated them so much. Oh well!

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      5. Sounds good. You actually seen food fight? I haven’t but I was just using it as an example that it took a long time to make and still looked like crap. I can only suffer so much. If Legend of Oz took a long time doesn’t mean it can’t look unfinished.
        Love Wizard of Oz! We can definitely agree on that.

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      6. Foodfight took 13 years to make! Craziness. But I really thought the animation in Legend of Oz was shockingly bad.
        Return to Oz is dark, creepy and depressing. ( I mean Dorothy gets given electro shock therapy and there is a hallway of heads? Kids film?)
        and Oz the Great and Powerful was so bland and I hated all the CGI. And I really thought the acting was terrible. Sigh…my poor Oz.

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      7. Well in the words of Gene Siskel “I’ll always resent that it stole 2 hours of my life. When I’m dying at my funeral I’ll be there thinking ‘ I could have lived 2 hours happier if it hadn’t been for Return to Oz”

        It petrified me as a child and for what purpose? It wasn’t even fun scary. Just depressing and grim and it all. I agree with Roger and Gene one of worst ever.

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      8. I actually didn’t hate ‘Foodfight!’ as much as I was expecting to. I saw the core of the story that they wanted to push and it was a very creative idea.

        But, the horrible animation, jokes, voice acting, etc. just kills it!

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      9. A for your reviews. Wish I could say the same for the movies but we all have our tastes and I guess just new takes on fairytales just isn’t my thing. Unless it’s on a TV show and then for some reason I am more ok with it Go figure!😉

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    2. The only family movie that really suffered this year because of competition was Muppets Most Wanted who went up against Lego and lost big time. Cost 58 million and only made 72 which when you add in marketing is a huge disappointment. It was shocking given The Muppets earned 165 million. Big surprise. I am one of the few Americans not enamored with Tina Fey so I wasn’t thrilled to see it but will because I love The Muppets.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. I’ve certainly seen worse but I agree no more is needed. I hope they don’t ruin what good there was with more sequels like Blue Sky did with Ice Age movies

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