Why would they call this movie Rio 2 if most of the film isn’t set in Rio? It’s like Madagascar when they set the story in Madagascar, but not in Madagascar 2 or 3. That’s just false advertising.
A while after the events of the first movie, Blu (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is enjoying his life with his wife Jewel (played by Anne Hathaway) and his three kids. Despite having learned how to fly, he still considers himself a domestic bird and is perfectly content with it. Things change when Tulio (played by Rodrigo Santoro) and Linda (played by Leslie Mann) discover that there might be other blue macaws in the Amazon. So Jewel becomes excited to know that they aren’t the only ones around, and decides to take the family to the Amazon and find out for themselves. With Blu initially hesitant about the prospect, Nico, Perdro and Rafael (Jamie Foxx, will.i.am, and George Lopez) also join them for some support, and soon they arrive to find a whole flock of blue macaws, including Jewel’s father Eduardo (played by Andy García) who is happy to have his daughter back and to see his grandchildren, but unimpressed with his domesticated son-in-law. Nigel the cockatoo (played by Jemaine Clement) had lost the ability to fly in the last movie, and with the help of a silent anteater and a poisonous pink frog named Gabi (played by the amazing Kristin Chenoweth), he plans his revenge on Blu.
I LOVED the first Rio! I know what it’s like to be in Rio de Janeiro, and when you watch the first movie, you’re in freaking Rio! It helped to have a Brazilian direct these movies. It also helped that it was a musical, as I LOVED the music. It was really amazing in the first one. Even though the writing wasn’t anything great, it still delivered on a good story with fun characters, and the environment was fantastic. So it’s a shame that the second movie didn’t deliver as much.
The animation is still amazing, and the best parts are during the musical sequences and the flying sequences. One of the best scenes in the movie is during the song “Beautiful Creatures” where the blue macaws fly together and dance, creating a kaleidoscope together. It was beautiful, and it was great in 3D! The animators put a lot of effort and heart into it, as much as the first one. It’s a shame that we don’t get enough of Rio de Janeiro, but the animation is nonetheless top-notch.
The music sadly wasn’t on par with the first one. Don’t get me wrong: there are good songs in the movie. “Beautiful Creatures” was amazing, and the two comedic songs from the bad guys were awesome! One is with Gabi, with Kristin Chenoweth’s high notes, where she expresses her forbidden love for Nigel, since she’s poisonous and can’t touch him. The other is Nigel’s rendition of “I Will Survive”, which is hilarious! The rest of the songs aren’t as good or as catchy as the first movie, and the opening song during the New Year scene was a bit disappointing in my opinion.
But the biggest problem with Rio 2 is the writing. There are WAAAY too many subplots, and some of the characters of the first movie didn’t even need to be in this one. Linda and Blu don’t even meet up until the end! And there are too many things going on: Blu trying to fit in with the blue macaws, Nigel’s revenge, Nico and Pedro trying to find acts for the next carnival, and an environmentalist message plot making it look like Avatar, down to the blue creatures. Tulio and Linda don’t do much, not even a character arc, and yet we spend some time with them. And the plot can be really predictable with a lot of clichés, and it’s not even that interesting or fun in the end. Something that really bothered me was that Blu was trying to fit in and do the best for his family, even when he complains, but Jewel didn’t seem to support her husband at all, or even notice that he was doing something selfless. One line she said to him REALLY frustrated me, because she implies that he was only thinking about himself this entire time.
Even so, I think this movie’s funnier than the first one. At least the good jokes. The auditions held by Nico and Pedro were hysterical, Nigel and Gabi are the funniest characters in the movie, even though Nigel was quite pointless, and Bruno Mars provides the voice of Rodrigo, a sexy blue macaw also going for Jewel’s affections. There are some jokes which still fail: I never found the human characters funny to begin with, especially Tulio for that matter, and a few jokes were a bit predictable.
Something else I liked is that while the environmental message was quite predictable, I thought that Blu’s dependence on technology was still quite relatable in terms of the outlook on modern families. Jewel wants their kids to connect to their own culture, but their dependence on technology prevents them from doing so. Going to the Amazon makes them appreciate their heritage and the environment around them. And it makes sense that the father is the one dependent on technology, and the mother is the one relying on instinct, since that’s usually the case with most families nowadays. Blu’s overconfidence is mostly attributed to that, and even when he’s learned how to fly, he has to learn when to let go of technology. I thought there was a bit of a commentary there, with the whole nature vs. technology. Unfortunately the environmentalist message makes it feel much more forced than it should have been. And sadly their kids didn’t do much in the story, and I would have preferred to see more family interaction, like Blu and Jewel talking to one of their kids about their issues or something of the sort. The story would have been better if the story had been much more about family, but that’s treated as a subplot instead, which is a shame. It felt like a lost opportunity there. By the way, I re-watched the ending of the first movie, and I noticed the designs of their kid don’t match with the designs in the second. Maybe they were baby birds at the time, and their shapes only changed after they grew up. Ah well. Doesn’t really matter. 😛
So although I don’t think this is as great as the first movie, Rio 2 is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the original. I did enjoy it, even though I found it problematic. The characters you loved from the first one are still there, the voice acting is fantastic, the animation with its backgrounds, details and animals movements are some of the best I’ve seen in any animated film, and I personally found it funnier than the first movie. If you’re not a fan of Rio, then maybe you’ll find this one mediocre. The story is quite cramped with unnecessary subplots and characters, and it’s like the writers had too many notes that they decided to cram in the film. So what do you think? If you loved the first Rio, will you watch Rio 2, or give it a skip?