20th Century Fox Animation
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
The explosion in animated films has created some genuine masterpieces... UP, Coraline, Despicable Me, and Rango have pleased audiences and critics alike. Don’t expect the new film Rio to join that list. It’s a film that will likely be cited when discussing “too many animated films,” or “why do we have to pay extra for 3-D?”
Blu is a baby Blue Macaw living in the rain forest. The pedestrian plot has our purloined parrot snatched from his home, and smuggled into the US for sale to an exotic bird dealer. He falls off the truck in Moose Lake Minnesota in the dead of winter. A little girl named Linda finds him, and promises to care for him. Over the years, they grow up together and become inseparable. The bird is happy and intelligent, but despite all this, he can’t fly.
One day, a knock at the door introduces us to a world famous ornithologist who pleads with Linda to take Blu back home. Apparently he’s the last living male Blue Macaw on the planet, and is needed in Brazil to mate in order to propagate the species. So by this point, you can pretty much figure out what’s going to happen throughout the rest of the film.
Rio is nice to look at, especially in the Brazil sequences. But there’s no real reason for it to have been made in 3-D... other than to get the ticket upcharge for the glasses. There’s no effort made to give it any sense of depth. The cookie-cutter characters are not particularly interesting or engaging, and it doesn’t help that the voice talent is just as ho-hum. Of all the performers, Anne Hathaway voicing Jewel, the female Blue Macaw who has been chosen to be Blu’s mate, seems to be acting at all.
One of Rio’s worst offences is the use of music. With the entire catalog of classic samba, bossa nova, and Brazilian tunes available, all we get from that genre is a few bars of Jorge Ben’s 1963 Mas Que Nada. It became an international hit for Sergio Mendes, who is credited as music supervisor. The rest of the songs are totally forgettable original pieces that sound like pick-ups from the Disney discard dumpster. There are way too many of them padding out the slight story line.
And let’s not forget about laughs, even though the screenwriters obviously did. There were none... perhaps an occasional semi-chuckle, but nothing more.
I could go on and on about what’s wrong with Rio, but there’s no point since there really wasn’t anything right with it. It’s the kind of film you buy when it hits DVD and put on for the kids to keep them entertained. And for that purpose, it might suffice. There’s enough color, movement, silly stuff, and goofy faces to keep them engaged. But for mom and dad, it will be a 96-minute sleeping pill.
The PG-rated Rio is showing virtually everywhere, with most major plexes offering both 3-D and 2-D screenings. There’s absolutely no reason to shell out the extra money for 3-D on this one. I paid $11.50 for a matinee ticket, and that was equally as painful as sitting through the film.