Having become a domesticated bird that cannot fly living in one of the coldest states in America, Blu is fascinated by Rio on first arrival, safely in the comfort of his cage. Then he meets Jewel (Anne Hathaway), a beautiful but fiery female Blue Macaw. Unfortunately they don’t hit it off right away. In fact, she tries to suffocate him the first time they meet. But when Linda and Tulio leave the two birds alone to ‘get to know each other better’ a cannibalistic bird (he eats chicken!) named Nigel kidnaps Blu and Jewel with the help of a young boy and takes them to exotic bird smugglers.
Blu and Jewel manage to escape in time but then begins the journey of escaping Nigel and the smugglers while trying to reunite Blu and Linda. All while being chained together and unable to fly.
A lot of people have commented that Rio looks a bit like Madagascar, but I’m pleased to report that it’s not the case. I know there are many Madagascar fans out there, but I’m not one of them. Yes, there are the obligatory dance numbers (from about three seconds in) but with Jamie Foxx and Will i Am adding their voices and Hathaway’s contribution the vocals are significantly better than expected in most kids films.
Jesse Eisenberg, while not yet managing to branch out of his stereotype, is a perfect fit as the voice of Blu – his lack of confidence, uncertainty, dislike of the unfamiliar – all fits in with the persona of Eisenberg. I have to admit I didn’t recognise Hathaway as Jewel until after the film, but she was charming as always and loaned her spectacular vocals to some of the songs. There are some fantastic one liners, “I’m not an ostrich!” and some amusing incidents with a motorcycle that will ensure that adults enjoy the film as well as the kids.
Rio isn’t faultless however. It falls many times into the usual pitfalls associated with this genre. Nigel was a good ‘baddie’ although I kept thinking of Scar from the Lion King every time he came on screen, some of the songs were…definitely not as good as others, and I’m still not convinced that *every* kids film needs to be in 3D.
However Rio is better than expected with some wonderful characters, an exciting and beautiful world of Rio de Janeiro, exotic birds and creatures, and some great musical numbers. The kids will love it, and you’ll likely find some good laughs along the way.