Tulio and Linda discover a flock of blu macaws in the Amazon after leading moviegoers to believe Blu and Jewel were the last of their species in 2011’s “Rio.” (Courtesy of Blue Sky Studios)
1.5 out of 4 stars
Here’s the downfall of happily-ever-after movies: most of the time a sequel isn’t warranted because all questions have been answered.
When “Rio” finished in 2011, we were left to believe the planet’s last two blue macaws – Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) – had fallen in love and everything was right in the world.
It was a wonderful movie, beginning in two places that couldn’t be more different – Minnesota and Brazil – progressing into a love story and culminating with a stunningly visual finale at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival where every plot line was tied with bow.
Blu had Jewel. Linda (Leslie Mann) had Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro). The vengeful Nigel (Jemaine Clement) was subdued. Everyone left the theater happy.
So what’s the problem?
“Rio” generated $144 million domestically and another $341 million – repeat, $341 million – internationally, so you don’t need to be a genius to figure out that when a film rakes in more than $480 million, a sequel is guaranteed.
Don’t argue. We created this macaw monster and if “Rio 2” comes anywhere close to “Rio,” Blue Sky Studios will pump out more sequels than “Police Academy.”
“Rio 2” is just as visually stunning as its predecessor, especially the 3D flight scenes. The story relies on quick, witty dialogue by all of the furry critters who return for another rumble in the jungle.
Pedro (will.i.am), Luiz (Tracy Morgan) Raphael (George Lopez) and Nico (Jamie Foxx) add to the movie’s star power, as do new characters Roberto (Bruno Mars), Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth) and Eduardo (Andy Garcia). But ultimately, a movie is judged by its acting and plot, not talking.
If just one or two minor things were wrong with “Rio 2,” I’d be more forgiving. But these aren’t speed bumps and blemishes – they’re craters and stains you can’t overlook.
Judge for yourself:
One: All of the sudden, a huge community of blue macaws is found in the Amazon, so apparently, Blu and Jewel aren’t the only ones left of their kind, as we were made to believe in “Rio.” Really? You’re telling me Tulio had to go all the way to Minnesota to find a mate for Jewel when he had dozens of hot birds like the one played by Bruno Mars in Brazil? Now, Blu and Jewel and their three kids have to schlep from their upscale home in Rio where they watch TV and eat nuts out of can all the way to the middle of nowhere to hang with wild birds? Blu and Jewel are about as wild as Donald Duck and Fozzie Bear.
Two: I don’t see how Nigel, a Cockatoo, could go through a plane’s propeller like he did in “Rio” and live, let alone return for a sequel like nothing happened. It’s not like he fell from a tree – he got sliced and diced like lunch meat. Apparently, he’s tougher than the Terminator.
Three: And the bad guy is.. Nigel and his poisonous frog friend Gabi who want to kill Blu? The illegal loggers trying to destroy the macaws’ habitat? Or is it the parrots who battle the macaws for territorial control? An animated comedy shouldn’t be this complicated.
That’s three strikes as far as I’m concerned.
So when it comes to paying movie theater price for this one, “Rio 2” is out.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.