Rio review

When you think of Rio you think of fun, carnival, party, party, party. Unfortunately the film version doesn't quite live up to the city it's named after.

The story follows Blu (Eisenberg), a rare blue macaw who enjoys living the life of a pet in a Minnesota town – having free run of owner Linda's (Mann) bookstore, drinking hot chocolate and generally being the top bird in their little world. In fact, life's so good that Blu feels there's absolutely no need to spread his wings (in both senses of the word). Then the pair finds out that Blu's the last male of his species and he and Linda are persuaded to travel to Rio so he can mate with Jewel (Hathway), the last remaining female. But Blu falls foul of some nasty bird poachers and their cockatoo Nigel (Clement).

Rio is a film that will appeal to kids more than adults. It has the odd bit of mild peril but the story is well signposted so there's little to surprise you. One saving grace for adults is Clement's role as Nigel. He almost steals the film in places and is probably given the best bits of the script, telling a group of monkeys: "I'm not interested in your nicked knick knacks. Your burgled baubles bore me," and fans of Flight Of The Conchords will be particularly happy to see him break into song with Pretty Bird, which he co-wrote.

Eisenberg is very good as the neurotic Blu, an excellent piece of work by the casting director. Hathaway does OK as Jewel, although it seems strange that they went for an American actress to play a Brazilian bird. She gets to sing a bit, too. Lopez, Will.I.Am, Foxx and Morgan do well as the supports but Lynch and Sykes are woefully underused as a pair of geese who bully Blu. One scene only? Shame! And there's a bunch of monkeys who feel completely tacked on. It felt like they were supposed to be like the penguins in the Madagascar movies but weren't nearly as funny.

The use of 3D is alright, but there's maybe only a couple of scenes where it really works. The animation itself is pretty good and the film uses all the vibrant colours you'd expect with its setting. My main problem is it just doesn't engage you in the way that a Pixar film does. I don't understand how animators from other studios don't get how Pixar make films for kids as well as adults, how they touch your head and your heart.

At only 96 minutes, Rio is a nice diversion for a short while with some funny bits but really you're not going to remember much once the lights go back up.

Official Site
Rio at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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