Animation companies are under a lot of pressure to bring a film that all audiences are going to enjoy, while making sure that children are entertained the most. To be fair, the route of hitting more of a general audience then just the kids is a good idea. After all, there are a lot of adults (including myself) that really enjoy animated features. Everybody knows that Disney will continue to deliver some great animated movies. We expect the same thing from Pixar and their great storytelling. We expect it from DreamWorks animation and their colorful designs. What about Fox’s Blue Sky Studios animation company?
Well… I don’t know what exactly Fox is doing with Blue Sky Studios. I guess they intend on being the company that caters to mostly children. I get that a lot from other movies like the Ice Age franchise, Robots, and last year’s Epic. I didn’t like any of these films, because they seem more content of looking funny as apposed to actually being funny. Then we got Rio in 2011, which finally gave me a Blue Sky Studios production that I liked. While it’s fish out of water story was not original, it was likable enough with it’s Brazilian soundtrack, colorful characters, and actual personality development. Rio 2 tries to replicate it’s original film…perhaps too closely.
Set a few years after the first movie, blue macaws Blu (played by Jessie Eisenberg) and Jewel (played by Anne Hathaway) now have a family of three children, Carla, Bia, and Tango, all living within a bird sanctuary that was set up by Blu’s owners, Linda (played by Leslie Mann) and Tulio (played by Rodrigo Santoro). Life in Rio de Janerio seems all right for everyone, but Jewel thinks that her family is too domesticated. But they have to live there, as their all supposedly the last of their species.
That changes when the macaw family receive word from the news that wild blue macaws may still exist in the Amazon forest. Jewel thinks this is a good time to take the family into the rainforest to find the other birds. Blu’s nervous, but agrees to do this to please his family. They take off from the city, along with other birds Rafael (played by George Lopez) Nico (played by Jamie Fox) and Pedro (played by Will. I .Am). They make the long flight alright and find other blue macaws, including Jewel’s long lost father Eduardo (played by Andy Garcia) and her old friend Roberto (played by Bruno Mars). At this point, the movie also throws in Loggers looking to tear down the blue macaws home, and wanted revenge by the first films villain Nigel the cockatoo (played by Jemaine Clement).
As you can tell, Rio 2 really tries to throw a lot of story for something that’s meant for children. I wouldn’t mind if it was at least interesting, but here’s the problem; Rio 2 is just the first movie all over again. It’s a fish out of water story, it’s another environmental agenda scenario, it’s a clash of the domesticated and wild, and the villain here is the same guy from before.
It’s okay to borrow a few elements from before, but this movie is a simple cut and paste job; just add a Meet the Parents subplot, a few new characters and catchy songs, and there you go, instant sequel. But surprisingly, they don’t copy over what made the original good. While Rio had a subtle environmental message that a lot of people didn’t know about (bird smugglers), Rio 2 is a jackhammer of “save the rainforest” stuff and “parrots should be wild” messages. It really want the audience to remember this, but it comes off as obnoxious. Also, why loggers? We’ve seen that hundreds of times before. The only thing that I did like was the bird that could have been cut out, Nigel. He boasts a cocky, performer personality that got an occasional chuckle. Otherwise, Rio 2 was made just to sell it’s soundtrack (it’s not bad though)
I’ll give this two save the rainforest bumper stickers out of five. Parents, I’ll give you some tips right now; skip seeing Rio 2, buy the soundtrack instead, watch the first movie, and go to a zoo to learn about macaws in an educational environment. Rio 2 is a party I won’t be returning to.