Rio 2

Directed by: Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jermaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx,, Rita Moreno, Tracy Morgan, and Andy Garcia

Computer animated films are a dime a dozen at this point.  In the “olden” days, one or two animated films would be released in a given year.  However, studios have seized on the economic potential of family friendly animated films and are rolling out computer animated films with increasing frequency.   In 2013, moviegoers were inundated with animated fare.  This year seems to be following the same trajectory with The Lego Movie and Mr. Peabody and Sherman released earlier this year, and Rio 2 opening this weekend.  The studio behind Rio 2 hopes to capitalize on the trend as the movie hits theaters during spring break and the holiday season.  Unfortunately, the film pales in comparison to recent animated fare.

Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), two blue macaws, are living comfortably in Rio De Janeiro with their three children. Blu is overprotective of his children because they are the last blue macaws in the world, and he does not want anything to happen to them.  Jewel, on the other hand, feels stifled by the life they are living in Rio.  While Jewel is out foraging for Brazil nuts like a normal bird, Blu is making the kids pancakes and watching television. Jewel thinks that they are losing touch with their natural roots and wants them to explore more.

Meanwhile, Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), Blu’s human friends, are in the Amazon releasing a bird into the wild when they have a blue macaw sighting.  They realize that this endangered species is living somewhere in the Amazon and needs to be protected.  When Jewel learns that there are other macaws out there, she convinces Blu to take a trip with the kids to the Amazon.  Blu reluctantly agrees to fly to the Amazon, but not without his trusty GPS and his close friends Nico (Jamie Foxx), Rafael (George Lopez) and Pedro (

When the family arrives in the Amazon, Jewel is amazed to discover her long lost father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) leading the flock of blue macaws.  Eduardo is not impressed with the domesticated Blu, and Blu struggles to fit into the tribe.  To complicate matters further, loggers are attempting to illegally cut down trees and destroy the habitat of the blue macaws.  Moreover, Blu’s former arch nemesis Nigel (Jemaine Clement) is also on Blu’s trail attempting to kill him. Blu faces an uphill battle in this sequel.

The animation in Rio 2 is phenomenal.  The imagery of the birds flying across South America from Rio to the Amazon is visually stunning.  The colors of the Amazon forest and its inhabitants literally jump off of the screen.  The filmmakers make spectacular use of the blue macaws in eye popping dance sequences and bird quidditch-like soccer matches.  Moreover, there are a few cute moments in the film.  Bruno Mars’ Roberto, in particular, is a scene stealer as an overly dramatic dreamy crooner.

Despite Rio 2’s beautiful animation, the film is a reheated version of the original Rio. The film, the plot and the dialogue, never grab your attention. The film is more flash than substance, and focuses on graphics rather telling an interesting story.  With the film’s A list cast, so much more could have been done with the dialogue and the characters to make this an entertaining sequel.  Unfortunately, it does not follow the path of recent animated fare that has been entertaining for both children and adults.  Not only was I ready to leave the theater after 20 minutes, my four year old daughter was ready to bolt after she finished her kids’ snack pack. Simply put, Rio 2 does not maintain the quality of the original film and/or improve the franchise like other animated sequels (i.e. the Toy Story series, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2).

Rio 2 earns a 0.09% rating.  Despite its positive message about the environment and some catchy beats, Rio 2 simply fails to take flight.  Parents, you will need a pitcher of Sangria to make it through this one.