[Screen It]

"RIO 2"
(2014) (voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway) (G)


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QUICK TAKE:
Animated Action/Comedy: Blu, Jewel, and their kids learn they are not the only birds of their kind when they travel deep into the Amazon and come into conflict with evil developers, a vengeful cockatoo, and Jewel's long-lost father.
PLOT:
Since the first "Rio," rare birds Blu (voice of JESSE EISENBERG) and Jewel (voice of ANNE HATHAWAY) have had gotten married and had three kids. One day while watching TV at their Brazilian nature preserve, they spot Blu's old owner, Linda (voice of LESLIE MANN), and her boyfriend Tulio (voice of RODRIGO SANTORO) touting the possible discovery of a whole flock of wild blue macaws deep in the Amazon.

Blu and his family decide to go check it out for themselves, unaware that part of the rainforest is threatened by a cabal of evil land developers under the command of the Big Boss (voice of MIGUEL FERRER). Fortunately, bird characters Rafael (voice of GEORGE LOPEZ), Nico (voice of JAMIE FOXX), and Pedro (voice of WILL.i.AM) from the first film tag along to make sure they survive in the wilds and to audition new talent for their Carnival concert.

Once there, Jewel is reunited with her loved ones feared dead a long time ago, including: her father, Eduardo (voice of ANDY GARCIA); her Aunt Mimi (voice of RITA MORENO); and her old childhood crush, the seemingly perfect Roberto (voice of BRUNO MARS). Blu tries to fit in, but the flock or tribe as they call themselves laugh at his pitiful survival skills and scoff at him when they learn he used to be a human's pet. And unbeknownst to Blu, he is being hunted by Nigel (voice of JEMAINE CLEMENT), the evil, Shakespearean-quoting cockatoo from the first film who blames him for his clipped wings and permanently grounded life.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
How much you enjoy "Rio 2" will depend on how high your threshold is for numerous things, the first being 90+ minutes of manic, animated action involving singing, rapping, dancing, prancing, and auto-tuned birds. The second is the voice and mannerisms of Jesse Eisenberg, who even as a wild blue macaw form comes off as the stiffest, most awkward white boy in the world ... er, not counting Michael Cera. The third being a tiresome main plot and multiple subplots that all cram obvious messages of environmental conservation, endangered species protection, and family togetherness down the throats of young and old.

I'm sorry. I just found the whole thing tedious with a capital "T." This is an overstuffed, deeply padded film that sorely lacks drive and urgency. The real problem is it tries to shoehorn in pretty much all of the characters from the first "Rio" in 2011 into this film, which should really only have featured Blu (Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and their family of three blue macaw chicks. Instead, it -- pardon the pun -- pigeonholes returnees Rafael (George Lopez), Nico (Jamie Foxx), Pedro (Will.i.am), and Luiz (Tracy Morgan) from the first film in a subplot that has almost nothing to do with the main action.

The main story has Blu and his family learning of the possible existence of a flock of other wild blue macaws in the Amazon rainforest. They decide to venture there and find Blu's human pal, Linda (voice of Leslie Mann) and her conservationist boyfriend Tulio (voice of Rodrigo Santoro), who are also attempting to locate the rare birds and save the rainforest from being demolished by evil, greedy developer The Big Boss (voice of Miguel Ferrer).

Why do Rafael, Nico, Pedro tag along? To protect the domesticated Blu from the violent wilds of the jungle? Because they generally care for the health and well-being of him and his family? Nah! They want to audition a menagerie of critters as part of an elaborate talent competition. So, every 10 or so minutes, the movie stops its main plot to give a song-and-dance montage of birds, beavers, bears, snakes, and other critters crooning, beat-boxing, twerking, and so forth. Then ANOTHER subplot has Nigel (voice of Jemaine Clement), the evil Shakespeare-quoting cockatoo from the first film spearheading a completely separate subplot in which he plots revenge against Blu for maiming him at the end of "Rio."

Both subplots DO distract from a boring, sitcom-esque main plot of Blu trying to impress his new father-in-law Eduardo (voice of Andy Garcia), who would rather see his daughter married to his surrogate son, the seemingly perfect Rodrigo (voice of Bruno Mars).

As you can see, there are a ton of big-name voices throughout picking up a paycheck. But it's just too much, and very little of it at the service of a compelling main storyline. Mars does get one nice song. And Clement continues to have the only truly memorable lines in these flicks ("I'll be pooping on your party promptly!") There's just a lot of bird poo thrown at the map here and very little of it sticks. Even a Kristin Chenoweth number (she plays a homicidal/suicidal frog in love with Nigel) feels like she's just trying to out-sing her "Wicked" costar Idina Menzel from "Frozen." Such a bitter little toad.

"Rio 2" is one that will play well just to the eight-and-unders in the audience. How did I arrive at that age limit? Because I took my nine-year-old to this, and she sighed and grumbled "I'm bored. When will this end?!" throughout. I rate it no higher than a 4 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed April 5, 2014 / Posted April 11, 2014


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