Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: The voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenowith, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, will.i.am, Rita Moreno, Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon, Tracy Morgan
Running Time: 1:41
Release Date: 4/11/14
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 11, 2014
Rio 2 primarily serves as a reminder that Rio exists. For me, it also serves as a reminder that I gave the original movie two-and-a-half stars, and that, in turn, serves as a reminder as to just how irrelevant the Irrelevant Rating in Stars system really is.
Without looking over my review of the original, I can remember very little about the first movie. It was pleasantly colorful, even as seen through the dimming effect of 3-D glasses. If my memory serves correctly, the movie awkwardly incorporated the destitution of the favelas in one of its subplots. That's about it.
Now I go through my review and see that Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg), the parrot hero of that movie and this one, couldn't fly. That comes as a great surprise because there's also a complete blank in how he actually learned to fly and given the fact that he not only flies in this movie but also plays soccer.
You may wonder under what circumstances the ability to play soccer would come in handy for a bird, and if that really was a thought going through your mind for some reason, you will be pleased to know that the movie has an answer. It's useful when the bird accidentally starts a territorial war with a rival flock of parrots in the rain forest, and the chosen mode of warfare is soccer.
Now you may have more questions upon learning this, but keep in mind that the movie is a computer-generated cartoon. It's best to limit your queries to ones outside the realm of traditional logic, lest you appear silly asking how the birds manipulate whatever they might use as a ball (It's a nut, by the way) while in flight or pondering whether the required dexterity to play soccer is even possible with a bird's body structure. No, let's just leave the inquiry here: Why is it necessary for the birds get into a situation where they have to play soccer in the first place?
That question, adapted to any given scenario the movie presents, fits a lot of what happens here. Why is it necessary for Blu, his wife Jewel (voice of Anne Hathaway), and their three children (voices of Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, and Pierce Gagnon) to leave the impressively rendered backdrop of Rio de Janeiro to travel to the Amazonian rain forest where nothing but plenty of fish-out-of-water jokes and a gruff father-in-law (voice of Andy Garcia) awaits?
Why is there an entire subplot about the movie's comic relief trying to set up a talent show? Why is there even comic relief in the form of previously established characters when the movie has already set up the three kids as the comic relief? Why does the villainous Nigel (voice of Jemaine Clement) return—only to be almost totally forgotten—when there's a group of humans threatening to cut down Blu and his family's newfound home? On that subject, why would anyone think that having a singing tree frog (voice of Kristin Chenoweth) be infatuated with the dastardly cockatoo would be anything but creepy?
These are quandaries that could try one's soul for the relatively and thankfully brief period of time that the movie occupies one's mind. Of great consolation is the fact that each and every one of those questions can be answered by the movie's inherent laziness and lack of narrative creativity.
The movie feels like the result of a series of what-ifs slapped together without any thought of trying to craft the resulting ideas into a cohesive whole. By the time the soccer game arrives, the screenplay by four writers (which might explain why it feels constructed by a committee whose members have never talked to each other) has introduced at least four subplots that get equally limited development. To fill in the gaps whenever a certain thread runs out of steam, there are musical numbers of varying success (The in-flight dance to celebrate Jewel's return home is a highlight), so yes, there are plenty of songs.
If the original movie was forgettable for the most part, Rio 2 at least has the dishonorable advantage of being memorable for the wrong reasons. It's not quite a template for how not to mount a sequel, but it's pretty close. By the way, if you're trying to figure out the logic behind the one-and-a-half star rating, keep in mind that trying to decipher logic in the I.R.I.S. system is about as futile as trying to figure out the logic of a computer-generated bird playing soccer.
Copyright © 2014 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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