Directed by: Carlos Saldanha.
Written by: Carlos Saldanha and Earl Richey Jones & Todd Jones and Don Rhymer and Joshua Sternin & Jeffrey Ventimilia and Sam Harper.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg (Blu), Anne Hathaway (Jewel), Jemaine Clement (Nigel), Leslie Mann (Linda), Rodrigo Santoro (Tulio / Soccer Annoucer), George Lopez (Rafael), Jamie Foxx (Nico), Will i Am (Pedro), Carlos Ponce (Marcel), Jeffrey Garcia (Tipa / Bat), Davi Vieira (Armando), Jake T. Austin (Fernando), Wanda Sykes (Chloe), Jane Lynch (Alice), Bebel Gilberto (Eva), Francisco Ramos (Lead Marmoset), Tracy Morgan (Luiz).
Rio is an animated kids movie with enough laughs to please adults. No, it doesn’t rise to the level of the best animated movies, but for what it is, you can hardly complain. It is brightly animated, contains some wonderful voice work, and is genuinely funny. So many kids movie are painful experiences for adults, but this one works for both age groups.
The movie is about a blue macaw, taken from his natural home in the jungle of Brazil, and shipped to Minnesota to be someone’s pet. But the crate he is in falls off the back of the truck, and that’s when Linda, a little girl, finds him. She names the bird Blu, and the two become best friends. Years later, they’re still best friends, but a strange thing has happened to Blu – he cannot fly. He has the ability, but has never learned to. He never had to. But then a Tulio shows up at the book store that Linda owns. He works at a bird sanctuary in Brazil. Blu is the only male Blue Macaw left, and they have just found the only female Blue Macaw, Jewel. The idea is to get them together and save their species. The problem is that bird smugglers know how rare these two birds are, and once in Brazil, both are kidnapped. They escape, but are chained together, and Blu’s lack of ability to fly upsets Jewel.
The plot is fairly standard – a typical romantic comedy plot, where opposites are forced together, drive each other crazy for most of the movie, but of course end up falling love. Yet, as voiced by Jessie Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, Blu and Jewel become an interesting couple. Eisenberg gives his trademark nervous energy to his role, and Hathaway is all bluster. They play off of each other nicely. Add in an excellent supporting cast of voice actors – George Lopez as a wisecracking toucan, Tracy Morgan as a big, dumb, lovable dog, Jamie Foxx and Will I Am as two small birds with big attitude, Leslie Mann as Linda and especially the brilliant Jemaine Clement as an evil cockatoo, and you have one of the best voice casts of the year. Even when stuck with fairly standard issue dialogue, they make it funny.
The animation is good as well. I’m not sure how it played in 3-D, but the colors are bright, the character design excellent. The movie moves at a fast pace throughout, throwing in some wonderful chase sequences.
Overall, Rio is an enjoyable little movie. Kids will love it. Adults will at least find it entertaining the first time through. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but what it does, it does well.