April 17, 2011

Movie Review: Rio (2011)

Let me first say that I really had no intention of seeing Rio. Quite frankly, I was not interested in it. The trailers, while brightly colored, did nothing to excite me. So, how come I found myself sitting in the theater with 3D glasses affixed to my face waiting for it to begin? Probably the same reason Fox and Blue Sky Animation chose to reuse the animated short Scrat's Continental Crack-Up at the start of the movie (i was previously attached to Gulliver's Travels). And that reason is.... well, I don't rightly know. In any case, I did see the movie, and I am pretty sure I nodded off for a couple of minutes. Hope I didn't snore.

Rio is a simple story of boy meets girl, he twist is that the boy and girl are macaws and more specifically, they are the last of the blue macaws. The problem is that the boy, simply named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), is a pet to a Minnesota book shop owner, Linda (Leslie Mann), and the girl, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), is in Brazil. An ornithologist named Tulio has come to Minnesota in the hopes of bringing Blu to South America in hopes the two birds will mate and save the species. There is certain reluctance to make the trip, but that is quickly overcome

With both birds in Rio, Blu's social awkwardness (Eisenberg is in Columbus from Zombieland mode) and Jewel's fiery desire for freedom do not mesh. This is where the plot gets some forward momentum. Think about where these exotic birds come from before reaching pet stores and owners in North America. Not all of these birds are raised on farms or with breeders, many are snatched right out of the wild, caged and sent to whoever will pay for them. This is the conflict of the movie that helps force our potential love birds together.

Blu and Jewel are birdnapped and must find a way to escape, get back to their owner and potentially learn about themselves and each other. It is all fairly typical stuff. Young or old, I am certain you know exactly how this is going to play out. Toss in some feathered comic relief, a creepy birdy bad guy and you have the movie.

There is no envelope pushing. There is nothing terribly adventurous about the plot. This is a simple, shut down and let the kids have some fun sort of movie. As a movie guy, I always prefer to see something stronger, more exciting, and just something different. In other words, this is no Pixar release or one of Dreamworks better films.

Do not get me wrong, while I cannot say it did much for me, but this is one of those movies clearly targeted at the younger members of the audience. The screen is always moving and everything is brightly colored, the voices are good, there are songs that the kids seem to like, and it has a nice upbeat ending. On the other hand, the story is familiar to the point of dull, the songs are not good (for adults), and I was personally a little bored with it.

Rio  is strictly for the kids and definitely better than the last Shrek and Ice Age movies.

Recommended for kids only.

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