Rio 2 – 2 out of 5
I fully believe that we are in the golden age of animated films. Thanks to the works of Pixar, many independent animation companies and the now maturing DreamWorks, we have films that are crafted to be entertaining for both young and old. However, there are still some animated movies that don’t seem to care to make the experience of watching it pleasant for the adults in the room and still just want to make sugar-rush fast and colorful-to-the-point-your-eyes-bleed films that will settle the kids down in the other room while you go and have yourself a silent cry in the bathroom and regret the day you decided to become sexually active.
|Anyone else slightly interested in how the one bird found a pair of goggles|
that perfectly fit his eyeballs?
So, the two blue macaws who came to realize that their species will die if they don’t settle for each other are back and ready for another colorful adventure (seriously, this movie is bright as shit…colorful shit). Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their children learn that they may not be the last of their species when Blu’s former owners Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro—Xerxes from 300 and the annoying guy who was thankfully buried alive in Lost) find clues to a blue macaw nesting ground in the rainforest. Jewel is able to convince a reluctant Blu to visit the location and Jewel is shocked to find her father; Eduardo (Andy Garcia), is in this large grove and so is the suave childhood friend of hers, Roberto (Bruno Mars). Now the problems start to pile up as it is discovered that this hidden grove is in danger of being leveled, Blu fears that Jewel may leave him because she no longer has to settle and it is revealed that the antagonist from the previous film; Nigel (Jemaine Clement), is still alive and has teamed with a poisonous frog named Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth) and is out to get revenge on Blu.
|Nigel's first plan was to start a birdemic...but he saw how that turned out.|
|Turn the turd into an egg and you can get away with a |
"shitting your pants" joke in an animated movie.
|Seriously, this movie is trying to murder you with color.|
One of the weakest things about this film has to be the voice cast. Even though it puts professional voice actors out of work, big animated films want the star power from household name actors and seeks them to bring life to their cartoon characters but, what many studio executives don’t take into consideration is, not all big actors have what it takes to act using only their voice. Despite what some of the more ignorant might think, voice acting isn’t just standing in front of a microphone and doing your lines and calling it a day. To have the character really resonate, you need to use your voice to emote without the added benefit of body language. It’s a difficult craft and, occasionally, bringing in famous actors to provide voices can prove to be disastrous.
First off (and I said this the first time around), Jesse Eisenberg may not have been the best choice for Blu the bird. While, on paper, he seems the perfect fit because the character is almost the only character Eisenberg plays, the problem comes from the fact that Eisenberg isn’t that strong of an actor when he gets to use his body language so, when you have him rely entirely on his voice, the end result is a character who sounds like they are voiced by a man who is either too tired to do his lines or just plain doesn’t give a fuck. This is almost mirrored in Anne Hathaway’s performance. While she’s a great actress, her voice doesn’t seem to have the range to adequately express emotion and bring an animated character to life.
|Eisenberg's performance is so flat, he took the awesome idea of a bird making|
pancakes and made it look boring.
I’m not trying to say that the entire cast sucked. Granted, you still have to deal with George Lopez trying to be funny and overdo it in his role but there are some really strong aspects to the cast. Once again, Jemaine Clement steals the show as Nigel but, sadly, isn’t featured enough where this movie could have been average like the first one (but I’ll get to that later). I also really enjoyed Bruno Mars as Roberto. While I may not be a fan of his music (he is an incredibly talented singer/songwriter, though. I just don’t dig the songs, not my cup of tea), I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as Jewel’s childhood friend and potential new heartthrob in her bird life. He was not only amusing but he also made the bird an actual character and didn’t sound like an actor just reading lines in a booth that will later be added to a cartoon character.
|Shit, how can you not fall in love with this bird?|
No film can escape conflict, not even animated films. Conflict is how stories work. You need the characters to face some obstacle that they need to hurdle. However, I think Rio 2 might have bit too much off of the conflict cake. In the film, you have Blu worried that, now other macaws have been located, Jewel will realize that she can find a mate based on her feelings and not on just perpetuating the species. In addition to this (this could have easily been it for the film), you have Nigel out for revenge and you also have this hidden grove of blue macaws being threatened by greedy Captain Planet villains out to destroy the rainforest. While it is entirely possible to make all three of these looming threats work, the movie just ends up haphazardly and very sloppily throwing them together. When one is being focused on, the other two quickly get forgotten about and, on more than one occasion, a conflict is returned very quickly as if the director just remembered that the plot thread was still dangling out there in the wind.
|The buzzcut and bags under his bird eyes means that he's a strict, worrisome|
bird who only wants the best for his daughter.
This dynamic is also seen with the side characters from the first film. Rather than make the film entirely about Blu, Jewel and their kids as they meet Jewel’s dad and her old friends, the film tosses in the characters from the last time around; Rafael, Pedro, Nico and Luiz. The problem arises from the fact that the production clearly has no idea what they want to do with them as they show up here and there for a funny moment or two and nothing else. Hell, the dog Luiz is out of the movie for a majority of the time and then just suddenly shows up at the end for no reason whatsoever.
|"I have no idea what to do with these two." - The Director|
Rio 2 feels like an amateurish sequel to an animated film that really didn’t need a sequel to begin with. The film feels like a direct-to-DVD sequel and only acts as a highlighting pen that shows that Rio may not be the strongest animated franchise out there. While I really enjoyed Bruno Mars’ voice acting work and Jemaine Clement brought in some genuinely funny moments as Nigel, the end result is the film did little to really get me invested. Realistically, however, this point is completely moot because the film was not produced for both adults and children to enjoy and, at its core, it was clearly produced to be nothing more than something colorful to distract the kids while you get a moment's peace and hopefully catch an episode or two of whatever adult-oriented cable show that you haven’t been able to watch lately.