Sort of like City of God, but with birds.
After being found stranded on the side of the road, domesticated bird Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is taken in by a simple, closed-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world gal from Minnesota, Linda (Leslie Mann). Together, the two create a lovely bond that’s stronger than what some humans have together, which is why they are almost never apart or leave one another’s site. However, one day, that idea looks to be challenged once ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) finds Blu and tells Linda that he needs Blu to mate and continue his species on with another bird of his, due to the fact that Blu is the last of his kind alive. Though they are both hesitant, they decide it’s for the best, even if where they end-up at is very, VERY far from Minnesota – it’s Rio de Janeiro! The party never stops, there is always excitement in the air and just about anything is bound to happen. Well, except for Blu and this supposed-mate of his, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), getting together because, let’s just say that they’re a little bit of polar-opposites. Which yes, is bad, but what’s even worse is that they get kidnapped by a local animal-smuggler looking to make a quick-buck and shipping these birds off to America, where they’ll either be some fancy person’s dinner, or sent to spend the rest of their lives in either this place, or that place. So yup, Blu and Jewel must find a way to get free, which may only be able to happen with some of the native’s help.
I have no clue as to why, but for some reason, when this movie first came out around this time three years ago, I didn’t really care to see it. Wasn’t that I don’t like animated-movies and have no soul or something, it was just that it didn’t seem like the type of movie that needed to be rushed-out to in order to see, nor did I have any of my 25 kids like I do now. So in reality, what was the point? Go to an animated-movie all by your lonesome and be that creep in the corner? Hell no! Even if I do that now, three years ago was a different time, and I sure as hell was in a different place than I am in now.
Mentally and physically.
But anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that the story seemed so conventional that I just didn’t think I needed to even bother to see it. And, to be honest, now actually having seen this movie, I can’t say my original assumptions were all that incorrect in the first place. The story started-off like I expected it to where this little bird got kidnapped and found a new home with a delightful, peaceful keeper, and then after that, practically every note that this film hit, has been hit a million, gazillion times before. Nothing really new, nothing really inventive. Just straight-laced, ordinary kiddie-fare that the parents get dragged into seeing, just so that they can feel as if they did something right for their kids, so that when they grow up, they don’t hate their guts and blame all of their problems on them.
Hate to break it to you parents, but either way, it’s going to happen! All kids hit that stage. Trust me. It’s not pretty, but it happens. So buy as many movie tickets as you want, because you’re not ever going to get off the hook! Hate to sound terrible and mean, but it’s the truth, Ruth!
Anyway, I realize that I am getting further and further away from the movie itself, but there’s sort of a reason: I’m in a good mood. No, not because I actually just gone done finishing Rio and I can finally move on with my life, but because it was such a pleasant surprise. See, even though the movie hit every single note, exactly like I expected it to, it never bored me. In fact, I’d say that it seemed to always have me smiling; whether it been so because of the vivid and bright colors on full-display, the witty, lovable personalities that this movie created for us to latch onto, or because at the center of the story, with rather adult-themes like crime, smuggling, and sex, there was a sweet message to be found that can do well for both the younglings, as well as the old-heads.
What this story is really about, even if I may be reaching a whole heck of a lot, is it’s telling us to never be afraid to get out there in our lives, do something we wouldn’t normally do and not over-think something to the point of near-insanity. Just let life take you as it goes, without trying to calculate every move it is that you make next. Sure, it’s good for a person to know the difference between what’s “right”, what’s “wrong”, and what’s “acceptable”, but it’s also good for a person to not hold themselves back because of some sort of fear they may actually have, or think that they have. This isn’t just a message that works well for kids, but one that also works well for the parents of these kids, which will hopefully have them feel a tad better about themselves and all of the decisions that they made.
Like I said, I’m stretching here, but there’s something endearing at the core of this movie and it deserves to be noted, because not too many animated-movies can pull that off, without stumbling on their own feet, or being not-so-subtle.
As for the actual movie itself, like I alluded to before, it’s a fun time no matter who you are. Director Carlos Saldanha clearly seems to not only have an eye for imagination, but also a knack for keeping the excitement in the air up, even when you know exactly where everything’s going to end-up and how. It’s all so clear and predictable, but that doesn’t really matter when you have a setting as wild and crazy as Rio; the same type of setting that Saldanha uses to perfection. Also to be noted, there’s plenty of slap-stick humor for the kids, like when a group of birds face-off in a playful brawl against a group of monkeys, or like whenever Tracy Morgan’s bulldog character comes out to shake-up his goofy rump and drool everywhere; but there’s also plenty of witty humor that most of the adults may get. Although, if you’re cool, hip and happening parent like I would love to think I’ll be (even though I’ll probably start taking up drinking as a hobby once my newborn comes out and ruins my peaceful, calm life), you’ll laugh at just about anything and everything this movie does.
And with the voice-cast, everybody is fine as everybody seems perfectly-suited for their own respective characters, as zany and wild as some of them may be. Jesse Eisenberg is good as the dorky Blu, as you could suspect knowing that Jesse Eisenberg is playing anybody; Anne Hathaway is charming, and gives you the impression that she’s just so pleased with herself while talking into the microphone doing this; Jamie Foxx and will.I.am. play, what are essentially, the goofy, black sidekicks who come around, teach Blu how to make on the ladies, sing most of the songs and just basically crack jokes as if they were two old geezers sitting-off on the side of the road, just commenting on every person they see walk by, whether they like them or not; Jemaine Clement is great as the villain bird that’s always getting the upper-hand; and George Lopez does a great job at being both the voice-of-reason, as well as the father-figure as Toucan. Yup, everybody’s fine and adds just a little bit more spice to a movie that clearly doesn’t need much more to be satisfying.
Consensus: Can definitely be seen as predictable, but Rio can also be seen as a pleasing, fun, exciting and beautiful-looking movie that makes just about anybody who watches it, happy. Especially if they aren’t expecting much going into it, like yours truly.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!