¨This is great. I'm chained to the only bird in the world who can't fly! Is there anything else I need to know? ¨
Carlos Saldanha gives us one of the most colorful movies of the year, and it couldn´t have been any other way considering the story takes place in beautiful Rio de Janeiro. Saldanha pays homage to the city where he was born, and does it by showing us the beauty of its locations, its people, and its music, during one of the most fun and colorful events that take place every year: Carnival. It`s impossible not to like this animated film, despite having a weak and predictable plot, because not liking it would be like not enjoying a trip to Rio. Saldanha takes us to his city and shows us all the beauty Rio has to offer. The visuals in the film are excellent and we get plenty of aerial shots of the city, we see its beautiful beaches, tropical forests, and even get to experience a motorcycle ride across its infamous favela. We also get to meet some of their eccentric characters (Saldanha has a lot of fun with the stereotypes), although the main attraction of the movie are the colorful animals. Animated films have matured greatly over the years and we`ve come to expect excellent visual effects, but in Rio the visuals are the main attraction and the characters are just a product of their environment. Rio is much better than the other animated film 2011 had to offer: Rango. Rango was an animated film I disliked, but I admitted the visuals were fantastic. Neither of the films have a decent story or memorable characters, but the difference with Rio is that when you have Rio de Janeiro the city itself becomes a character and a very memorable one for that matter. That is why the movie is such fun because it’s all about Rio and not so much as the rest of the characters.
The film opens in the tropical jungles of Brazil where a blue macaw`s life will change forever when a group of poachers take him captive and smuggle him to the States. Somewhere along the way the bird ends up in chilly Minnesota after the truck that is smuggling him hits the breaks a little too hard and the box where he`s in ends up flying out of the truck. The macaw is fortunate enough to be found by a young girl named Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann) who takes good care of him. She names the bird Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and they both seem to be enjoying a comfortable life together when all of a sudden they get a visit from a Brazilian ornithologist, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), who claims that Blu is the last male bird of his species. Tulio has found a female macaw (Jewell, voiced by Anne Hathaway) and needs Linda to take Blu to Rio so the birds can breed and save the species. Linda unwillingly takes Blu to Rio and that is where the fun begins because Jewel and Blu don`t get off to a right start. She is more of a free spirited bird who enjoys her liberty, and he is a domesticated macaw who can`t even fly. Somehow both birds are kidnapped from the lab by a smuggler named Marcel (Carlos Ponce) along with his stupid accomplices, and accompanied by an evil and scary cockatoo named Nigel (Jermaine Clement). Blu and Jewel manage to escape from these poachers but not before they end up being chained together. Both birds end up on a journey trying to free themselves while escaping from Nigel and the poachers and along the way they befriend Rafael (George Lopez) the toucan, Pedro (Will.i.am) the red-crested cardinal, Nico (Jamie Foxx) the yellow canary, and Luiz (Tracy Morgan), the bulldog.
The plot is probably the weakest part out of the 96 minute movie because it is very predictable: it`s a formula picture where we have a male and female lead character that can`t stand each other at first only to end up discovering they have feelings for each other. We`ve all come to expect these stories from Hollywood were opposites attract. Fox-Blue Sky Studios may not have the depth in their stories as Pixar does, but they sure can deliver great visuals. Don`t expect a heartfelt story like Pixar`s Up or Toy Story and I guarantee you will enjoy this fun colorful movie because Rio de Janeiro is a fun place to be, especially during Carnival. The city itself becomes the main character in this film and that is why the movie is called Rio and not Blu or Jewel. The details of the city and the beautiful locations couldn’t have been enjoyed more if it wasn`t for Carlos Saldanha and his love for the city in which he was born. Rio is a fun and entertaining movie where kids and adults will have a good time alike thanks to the beauty of its scenery enjoyed mostly through aerial shots, and the soundtrack full of Samba which identifies the city. Saldanha couldn’t have picked a more different location from his previous film: Ice Age, and the result is visually noticeable. Rio is a lot of fun and I recommend this animated film for the entire family.