Animation really isn’t my thing; I’m just going to say that right off. But, every now and again, I inadvertently come across a family-friendly animated flick that doesn’t leave me with an overwhelming sensation to set things on fire. In fact, in the case of Rio, a computer-animated feature from the folks that brought us the Ice Age franchise, I actually found myself in a state of enjoyment throughout the duration of the 96-minute movie.
The story here, while not wholly remarkable in a “what a highly original concept” kind of way, concerns one of the last remaining blue macaws on the planet, Blu (voiced by Michael Cera’s constant running mate, Jesse Eisenberg) who received his ridiculous name by his human familiar, a nerdy, bespectacled Minnesota gal named Linda (Leslie Mann). Approached one day (out of the blue — ha!) by a Brazilian ornithologist by the handle of Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), who intends to mate Blu — an insecure and neurotic creature who hasn’t quite mastered the ability to fly-- with one of the last remaining female macaws, Jewel (Anne Hathaway).
Departing from their snowcapped state for sunny Rio de Janerio, the average “bird out of water” story commences as the rare birds are kidnapped by smugglers. A playful, energetic music score that was produced by Brazil’s own Sergio Mendes accompanies. Frankly, I think the whole film was formed just so they could force American kids to listen to samba music — which is a good thing, I think.
As I said before, this isn’t an entirely inventive story. It’s fun enough, however, to keep most of its viewers entertained thoroughly — even if the casting directors did give in and hire will.i.am and Jamie Foxx to voice a couple of feathered street urchins.
Flight of the Concords member Jemaine Clement voices a crazed cockatoo (and sings a witty song, as you might expect him to), and Tracy Morgan, Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes are among the film’s other vocal contributors. In keeping up with some unwritten law in the world of animated talking animal films, George Lopez voices a toucan with a large family.