** out of 5
Twentieth Century Fox Animation
Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Rio 2’ on Blogcritics.
I suppose after a film manages to make more than five times its budget back worldwide, and nab a Best Original Song nomination
at the Academy Awards, its studio may feel obligated to cobble together
a sequel. In case anyone forgot — which seems to be most people when
they hear about Rio 2 — the first Rio opened back in 2011
and apparently Blue Sky Studios decided that since they’ve already mined
the idea of getting two birds on the brink of extinction to copulate,
that the only place left to go is straight into Meet the Parents territory. You’ve been warned.
finds the two blue macaws, Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel
(voiced by Anne Hathaway), living the family life in Rio with their
young offspring: Carla (voiced by Rachel Crow), Bia (voiced by Amandla
Stenberg), and Tiago (voiced by Pierce Gagnon). While on a visit to the
Amazon, Blu and Jewel’s owners — Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann) and Tulio
(Rodrigo Santoro) — come across evidence that there may be a whole
flock of blue macaws deep in the rainforest; meanwhile, a logging
operation inches closer and closer to destroying the birds’ natural
Soon enough, everyone — including friends Rafael (voiced by George
Lopez), Nico (voiced by Jamie Foxx), and Pedro (voiced by will.i.am) —
band together to save the land, while dealing with the strains of
relationships put on by Jewel’s father Eduardo (voiced by Andy García)
and her childhood friend Roberto (voiced by Bruno Mars). To make matters
worse, Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement, who is completely wasted) has
followed the blue family, and has brought along his own minions — a
poison dart frog named Gabi (voiced by Kristen Chenoweth, who is
overused) and a silent tamandua — to seek revenge.
Many sequels get a lot of flak for being uninspired, but Rio 2 seriously takes the cake. Let alone the fact that having been beaten for Best Original Song by the deserving “Man or Muppet,” Rio 2
is stuffed with enough songs that it feels like director Carlos
Saldanha is hell-bent on at least another nomination. Aside from the Meet the Parents
rip-off plotting, the best jokes Saldanha and his gaggle of
screenwriters (Don Rhymer, Carlos Kotkin, Jenny Bicks, and Yoni Brenner)
can come up with revolve around iPods, fanny packs, sporks, and farts.
This is not high-flying entertainment. To top it off, this is one of the
most boring family films in a long time.
After being treated to a barrage of entertainment options in 2013,
2014 is off to a pretty rocky start. Not that Fox has the best track
record lately; even the acquisition of DreamWorks hasn’t made them safe
from box office failure (see Turbo and Rise of the Guardians,
both of which are better than this). The biggest offender however, has
to be Blue Sky itself. Talk about playing it safe. Churning out feature
films that seem to be either worse or more boring than the last, they
need to venture out from their safe zone and stop relying on Ice Age films. Epic was a step in the right direction, but who even saw it? The least I can say about Rio 2 is that anyone who had complaints about Mr. Peabody & Sherman or even Muppets Most Wanted, this is by far the worst family film of the year. And will undoubtedly remain so once 2014 comes to a close.
Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Animation