Grae Drake
Rio Review

Grae's Rating:


Same old (bird) song.

Grae's currently on vacation in an exotic land until the end of April. Subbing for her is fellow MDC writer Alonso Duralde. Follow him on Twitter at @ADuralde.

Who’s In It: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, George Lopez

The Basics: Plucked from the rainforest as a baby, blue macaw Blu (voiced by Eisenberg) is thoroughly domesticated in Minnesota by Linda (Mann), who spends most of her life raising and keeping him. It turns out that Blu is only one of two blue macaws left in the world, so ornithologist Tulio (Santoro) brings Blu and Linda to Brazil so the bird can mate with his counterpart Jewel (Hathaway). Can the wild Jewel and the tame Blu find love and propagate the species? And will Tulio and Linda be able to find them after they get stolen by exotic-bird smugglers?

What’s The Deal: The posters say “From the creators of Ice Age,” so don’t say you haven’t been warned. Like that inexplicably popular animated franchise, Rio is an innocuous enough way to keep kids entertained for an hour or so, but it’s a bloody bore for grown-ups. The plotting here is of the set-up-the-pins-and-knock-them-down variety, so you’ll pretty much predict every grinding of the script’s gears. Mismatched couple whose initial loathing blossoms into love? Check. Wacky ethnic second bananas who help the leads in their quest? Check. Bland, cookie-cutter characters about whose fate we neither care nor worry? Check.

More Jobim, Less, Please: It was heartening to see bossa nova king Sergio Mendes’ name in the opening credits, and to their credit, the filmmakers do use the film’s Brazilian setting as an excuse to throw in classic samba tunes like “Mas Que Nada” (under a breathtaking flying sequence off of Sugarloaf Mountain) and “The Girl from Ipanema.” But since Astrud Gilberto doesn’t get much radio play anymore, the movie forces a composition, “Hot Wings (I Wanna Party)” into our ears. Like most Black Eyed Peas songs, it’s an excruciating ditty that boils down to one basic theme. (In this case: “Party! Party! Party!”)

In Living Color: One thing Rio does right is to take advantage of its avian characters, giving us an explosion of colored feathers right from the movie’s Busby Berkeley–esque opening number. The film’s evocation of the famous Rio Carnival parade is pretty eye-popping as well.

Art Film Gateway Drug: If Rio gets your kids excited about Brazil and the spectacle of Carnival, try showing them Marcel Camus’ 1959 Black Orpheus when they’re a little older.


Comments (8)

André - 4-18-2011 9:40 AM
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Black Orpheus is a very very old movie, dont represents the carnival anymore. I live in Brazil and i can say: everything in the movie is real, excluding the monkeys stealing the tourist's things. Here, the child do this ugly work, unfortunately.

Kel - 4-18-2011 10:47 AM
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Rio´s scenery is amazingly similar to the city of Rio. It ´s a beautiful tribute to Brazil and it´s heart warming, and YES, it is for children. After all, it´s an animated movie made for them, ut I dont agree that is boring... If u don´t go to the theathers expecting to see a profound discussion on animals traffic, and just wanna have fun, you will have a blast. Also, we are in 2011, you cant watch Orpheu and expect to see the same Rio de Janeiro we have today, it´s just not realistic anymore. U can use Marcel Camus as a sort of historical study. Brazil now is a free country and the 8th economy of the world, as any other big city in the planet, Rio has its problems, but it has definitely changed in a really positive way also.

marc - 4-24-2011 3:21 PM
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what rio de janeiro have that any city in the entire world don't? hospitality. problems? of course but who cares? if u find fun hospitality and smiley faces every corner...

Blake - 4-30-2011 11:23 AM
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The one thing that bothers me about this is that most reviews only see it in the eyes of adults.. as if were too mature to like animated movies. If you were a kid watching the movie your review would dramatically change, So instead people give so small credit and hate on the bands which is what's about this generation. You like your generation's music and we like ours, Considering that this movie had also brought in $41,000,000 box office weekend is outstanding for an animated film. I believe that this movies intended audience is for people who can appreciate the time it takes to develop a animated movie as good as this. I give Rio five stars and hope for multiple sequels in the future.

Izzy Patterson - 6-11-2011 3:39 PM
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I agree.

Jaakko - 6-16-2011 1:36 PM
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I disagree.

WaveDash - 7-11-2011 6:02 PM
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It's a childrens movie, but regardless I found it very pleasing. I love it. However I walked into the theater by my sisters with very low expectations. This could be why I'm so in love with this little movie (or the fact that we just walked out of Pirates four). I didn't expect plot twists or anything but a stereotypical love story, so I wasn't disappointed. Rio has a character about it that jumped out among other animated movies. And I wouldn't change a thing about it.

kiykay - 11-11-2013 3:07 PM
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