Rio 2 (Blue Sky)
Starring (voices of) Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, will.i.am, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Tracy Morgan, Bebel Gilberto, Andy García, Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon.
Written by Don Rhymer and Carlos Saldanha, based on characters created by Carlos Saldanha and Yoni Brenner.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha.
As sequels go, it’s usually hard to find movies that improve on their original source material. If there’s a “2” or “II” on the title, most people assume it will be at least “as good” as the first movie. Sometimes, the second installment is much worse, which can doom a franchise to a quick death, depending on box office. Rio 2 is a hasty follow up to 2011’s Rio, the computer animated story of a parrot’s adventures in Brazil. Is it “as good,” better, or worse than the first movie?
Jesse Eisenberg is back as the voice of Blu, a rare blue macaw stolen from the jungles outside Rio de Janeiro s a baby and raised by Linda (Leslie Mann) in snowy Wisconsin. In the first movie, Blu met and fell in love with a fellow macaw named Jewel (Anne Hathaway), outsmarted a gang of poachers, and learned to fly, while also contributing to the demise of an evil cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and helping Linda find true love with a bird conservationist named Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro). Flashing forward, Blu and Jewel have a family of their own and are living under the protection of Tulio and Linda in Rio, when their human protectors take off on a mission to the Amazon, where they hope to prove there are more blue macaws. The humans are suddenly lost in the Amazon (several hundred miles to the north of Rio) and are threatened by a group of evil loggers, so Blu and Co. take off to find them. Tagging along are bird friends Raphael (George Lopez), Nico (Jamie Foxx) and Pedro (will.i.am). They leave the slobbery dog Luiz (Tracy Morgan) behind, because… dogs can’t fly, silly.
When they arrive in the Amazon, Blu’s family discovers an entire community of blue macaws, including Jewel’s father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) who acts as the group’s leader. Jewel wants to stick around and reconnect with family, while Blue (shockingly) has trouble fitting in. Adding to their troubles is Nigel (having miraculously survived a collision with an airplane in the first movie), who teams up with a tap-dancing aardvark and a lovesick frog (Kristen Chenoweth), bent on revenge. Eventually Blu, Jewel, the loggers, Linda, Tulio, Nigel and all the other characters meet up for a jungle battle ‘royale.’
I liked the original Rio movie, and thought it was a fine love song to my adopted homeland down south (I spent a year in and around Rio de Janeiro in a former life). Looking back (while recognizing my bias), I understand it wasn’t a great animated family film, but a decent one.
Rio 2 is not.
There were absolutely no funny moments in the movie, and a whole lot of dull ones to fill the void. The forgettable musical numbers have very little melody, despite some beautiful computerized visuals on display during the production numbers.
Rio 2 is a sloppy, uninspired retread that should be avoided until available on rental, so the little kids who like talking animals can enjoy the movie in a separate room. In Portuguese, we call it “uma bagunça” (a mess), like something that falls from the sky onto your windshield.