By: Oberst von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
When Minnesota native Linda finds out her pet Macaw “Blu” (Jesse Eisenberg) is one of only two living members of his species, she ventures to Rio de Janeiro to introduce him to his female companion Jewel (Anne Hathaway). Blu and Jewel are kidnapped by exotic pet smugglers, who chain them together as Blu is unable to fly. It is up to them to learn to work together and escape. Blu meanwhile must somehow get back to Linda, who he loves, and learn to fly along the way.
They say coming down is the hardest thing
Sounds like a typical Disneyfied animated musical concept? Well, that is exactly what 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky studios set out to bring us.
And for the most part, it works surprisingly well. Director Carlos Saldanha and company have a vision of Rio de Janeiro as a colorful city of excitement, music and celebration.
cause, you know that is all there is to Rio…
Being fair; they are not afraid to show off some of the darker elements of the Favelas, as one side story involves the plight of a homeless boy named Fernando who the smugglers hire to steal the birds. As this movie is G-Rated, there is a limit to how far they can go, but they tread it well.
For his part, Jesse Eisenberg is at his nerdy best as Blu, and Anne Hathaway projects a personal strength that makes their inevitable escape believable. Another voice acting highlight is *shudder* (yes, I’m going to actually say this…) George Lopez as Rafael the Toucan. I’ve never been a Lopez fan, but he is an excellent match as the guide Blu and Jewel find to take them through the city.
Jamie Fox as Nico the Canary is also a stand out; the animators had fun capturing all the little details of Fox’s mannerisms, and even add some eccentricities of their own. Jemaine Clement as the sadistic Cockatoo Nigel is particularly hilarious. Once a beautiful performing bird, now he prefers to eat chicken wings and beat up on lesser creatures. He hams up the evil in the best way, resembling a James Bond super villain.
You gonna get raped monkey
As far as musicals go, you have to work hard to find someone as biased against them as I. That said, most of the musical numbers here are catchy, funny and most important; further the story along.
Blue Sky Studios have finally overcome the handicap that the Ice Age franchise has become to create a film with genuine heart, and a true artistic vision. This puts it at the top of the heap in competition against Pixar in the future. Rio still doesn’t reach the emotional depth of the best Pixar films, but it is walking the precipice closely. *checks Wikipedia for their upcoming features* Shit… they’re doing another Ice Age movie?
Given the many positives of the movie, there were some small moments that made me have to grab for another beer. For instance, while most of the music is very well done, the tunes that are weak are clearly aimed at the top forty, and living in autotune hell. What was once a simple tool for cleaning up an occasional glitch in a recording has become big business for the talentless and culturally bankrupt.
Need I say more?
Also, the story line is very predictable. It is because of the creativity that was taken in the characters, and overall design of the film that the movie distinguishes itself. I can only say that perhaps if they had taken a little more time to find something new to say in the story it could have crossed over to the Pixar level of quality.
All the excitement of Carnival, without the hangover.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for each of Will.I.Am’s appearances
Take a Drink: during each song, to keep things even-tempered
Down a Shot: when they resurrect a dead character at the end, you know for the kids