8 April 2011 | freemantle_uk
Bird Love and Nerd Love
The Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro is serving as the setting for two films being released this April: one being a full on action film, Fast and Furious 5, the other being a family animated adventure. Rio is that film and shows that the Fox subsidiary Blue Sky Studios is growing from strength to strength.
Blu the Spix's Macaw's (Jesse Eisenberg) early life is tragic, having fledging from his nest too early and been kidnapped by poachers. Luckily he was adopted by a loving owner, Linda (Leslie Mann) as a little girl. 15 years later Linda owns a bookstore in the snowy landscape of Minnesota and Blu becoming a very nerdy bird. A Brazilian ornithologist, Túlio (Rodrigo Santoro) finds Linda and tells her that Blu is the last male of his species and takes them to Rio de Janeiro so the bird could breed. But Blu does not hit it off with Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and matters get worst when poachers take the birds and chain them together. When their escape Blu and Jewel they try and reunite with Linda whilst avoiding being captured by the poachers and their insane cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement).
Rio is a pure formula picture and there are many elements have been in other films, such as Blu being taken from the wild as a chick, the animosity between Blu and Jewel and we all know where it is going to lead, the story of Nigel having a tragic past and being rejected, etc, etc
. But formula does not have to be bad and when done right it can easily lead to an enjoyable film for all the family. Director Carlos Saldanda certainly made a fast paced adventure with a great amount of velvet colour. There is a more old-fashion feel to it, like Disney films and its copycats in the 90s. Pop-culture references are toned down and there are a few musical numbers which is rare in CGI animated features. The animation itself has a similar look to Pixar's particular the human characters, though Túlio looks very similar to the main character in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The animation of the parrots climbing is particularly well done and true to live to anyone who has ever own one.
Much of the humour of the film is kid friendly slapstick as is expected from this type of film and it is done very well. There is enough for parents and adults audiences to keep them entertaining. My personal favourites were the double act Kipo (Robin Thicke) and Marcel (Carlos Ponce) who were the dumb henchmen for the poacher and outsmarted by a cockatoo. They have some of the best lines in the film. But the two characters Pedro the Red-crested Cardinal (will.i.am) and Nico the yellow canary (Jamie Fox) were annoying and pretty stereotypical.
Eisenberg gives a typical nerdy performance as his character is book-smart, but not adventurous at all, preferring to be safe with his owner. Compared to Hathaway she is a feisty, strong female character who wants to explore and distrusts humans. Both learn from each other, for Blu that there is a wider world and for Jewel that not all humans are bad. Clement was funny as he parodies British actors playing psychopathic villains in action films. Though I do question why ornithologists did not question why they had an injured cockatoo considering the species is native to Australia and New Guinea (but this is a minor issue). As well as the bird love in the film there is also some nerd love.
A respectable 7.5/10.