Rio 2: Movie Review
Vocal cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia
Director: Carlos Saldahna
In 2011, Rio the movie was a hit - the CGI story of a neurotic blue Macaw, called, erm Blu, voiced with precision by Jesse Eisenberg, saw the bird taken to Rio to mate and propogate the endangered species.
This sequel takes up where that story left off, with Blu (once again voiced by Eisenberg) an over-cautious father now to three youngsters with bird wife Jewel (Hathaway) but enjoying a quieter life in Rio, away from the perils of the jungle and threats from angry cockatoo nemesis Nigel (Jemaine Clement), who's now a flightless bird and confined to working as a pet in a roadside show.
But when Blu and Jewel spot more of their kind in the Amazon rainforest on TV, suddenly Jewel decides it's time to go visit the tribe - much to Blu's horror. On their way back, Blu and Jewel are stalked by Nigel who's teamed up with a poison frog to take him down once and for all.
However, that threat to Blu's life is not the only danger that he faces once he gets to meet Jewel's long feared dead father Eduardo (voiced by Andy Garcia)...
Rio 2 the movie is a case of same territory as Ice Age 4 Continental Drift, where the creatures within met similar issues (with Manny being a father and obsessing over the minutiae of life and not being good enough for his in-laws) - but with added dollops of lots of singing (in fact, it's way too much as the birds and various creatures seem to burst out into song without any warning and at a moment's notice).
It's perfectly serviceable and the young kids will enjoy the wacky antics of some of the crew who are trying to put together a sideshow for Rio's carnival, but Rio 2 lacks the magic of the first in among the avian antics. Eisenberg once again brings his neurotic A game to Blu but the over-worrying nature of the bird starts to grate a little as the in-law clashes come and the panic around Jewel's former flame, Roberto (voiced by Bruno Mars) starts to increase.
Thankfully, Jemaine Clement's Nigel and Kristin Chenoweth's psychotically loveable poison toad bring some welcome zany relief to the proceedings, as they play out their doomed Romeo and Juliet style story to great comedic effect. Off all the songs, Clement's I Will Survive has echoes of the Flight of the Conchords' lyrical madness and proves a great tonic to the proceedings. Equally, his thwarted thespian wannabe antics cut a swathe through the obvious environmental and deforestation sub-plot that forces Blu and Eduardo to set aside their differences.
As the final act descends into avian anarchy as the bird battle for the forest takes on the developers, there's a feeling that Rio 2 has nowhere else left to go in amid the singing and antics of the group.
If anything, Rio 2 works as a piece of forgettable kids' friendly cinema but one which, were it not for Clement's presence, feels like a formulaic CGI outing, lacking in zing and punch that made the original such a joyously offbeat journey to have embarked on. It's clear this franchise is in real danger of having its wings clipped.