Friday, April 11, 2014

The Happy Birds Are Back

It was bound to happen – and I am happy it did.

The vibrant colors and Sergio Mendes-approved sounds of the Rioverse are back in the mostly most-welcome sequel, Rio 2, which once again features the voice stylings of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathway, who, btw, reminded yours truly, at the blockbuster’s world premiere in Miami Beach last month, that she “[plays] a macaw,” OKRRR.

Oh yes she did. And well, alright, then.

Eisenberg and Hathaway, like I said, reprise their Blu and Jewel characters from that crowd-pleasing 2011 entry. Except this time, the precious pair of blue macaws has a trio of young macaw-children along for the ride, as well as adventure on the mind.

Rioverse mastermind Carlos Saldanha starts Rio 2 on a high note (too high, maybe), with an ebullient New Year’s-in-Rio sequence set to Janelle Monáe’s What Is Love.” It’s not that it’s all downhill from there, but, if you are like, a grown adult, what follows ain’t as engaging.

Blu and Jewel, especially, are concerned that their kids are growing to be too much of the city-macaw types, so when they see a couple of (human) friends on the telly (Leslie Mann’s Linda and Rodrigo Santoro’s Tulio), talking about how they’ve found blue macaws in the Amazonian wilderness, they decide the family should take a holiday to explore its origins and see who else is out there (folks, if you will recall, Blu was plucked from the jungle fresh out the egg, and Jewel was a captive bird when we first met her).

Dilemmas ensue.

Blu, ever the neurotic, worries that the journey will be a treacherous one (so he takes a fanny pack filled with...essentials), and, worse, that his family will prefer a life in the wild without him, while Jewel reconnects with old relationships she thought long lost (Andy Garcia voices her elder statesman-dad) and that she fears she could lose again since the movie’s plot has an inspired illegal deforestation-as-villain thread.

It’s all fine and dandy, but I was more into the subplot involving a hungry-for-payback-from-Blu Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and his interspecies reluctant romance with Gabi, the poison dart frog voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.

Their chemistry is all drama and hijinks and quite rather easily the best part of the better-than-the-first Rio 2 – that is, from the POV of this adult. I’d say I wish we’d gotten more of those two, but then again, I probably would be crying foul they got overplayed.

My Rating ***

Photo: 20th Century Fox.

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