In the annals of computer-generated family fare, we all know that Pixar reigns supreme. While DreamWorks may be their closest competitor, the former has yet to maintain the steady stream of quality coming out of John Lasseter’s camp. While a random great film is few and far between from other production houses (Rango), some can’t help but keep one step behind by continually playing it safe. Case in point would be Blue Sky Studios. And their latest venture, Rio, is no exception.
Maybe the main cause for concern behind Blue Sky’s quality lies solely in the hands of director Carlos Saldanha. There also could be some issues regarding what Fox Studios lets them get away with. I doubt founder Chris Wedge figured they’d always be one step behind in the realm of feature films. But when Saldanha has directed four of their six films, maybe it’s time to hand the reins over to someone else. While Rio is admittedly a step in the right direction, they still seem too preoccupied with over-the-top slapstick, pop culture, poop jokes, and stunt voice casting (all something DreamWorks is finally shying away from themselves).
In Rio, we are whisked away deep into the jungles of Rio de Janeiro. The local bird community has awoken for the day and are commencing into a joyous burst of song and dance. Fresh macaw hatchling Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) may be able to wiggle his tail feathers, but we quickly learn that he hasn’t learned to fly just yet. Before you can say, “Toucan Sam,” all of the birds, including Blu, are snatched up by poachers and loaded onto a plane for the States to be sold off as pets. But thanks to a red light in Moose Lake, MN, Blu is thrown from the truck and found in a snow bank by a little girl named Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann).