“Rio” is a brightly colored, dizzying pinwheel of 3D animation in which nothing much happens. Coming from Fox’s Blue Sky Studios (the Ice Age trilogy), “Rio” is an attempt to beat Disney/Pixar at its artful game. No way.
The plot is appropriately featherweight. Jesse Eisenberg, in full retreat from his commanding “Social Network” persona, voices the role of Blu, a macaw who’s been so domesticated by Linda (Leslie Mann), a Minnesota bookstore owner, that he doesn’t know how to fly.
Enter Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), a Brazilian ornithologist, who tells Linda he must take Blu to Rio. Turns out this nerd of a bird is the last male of his species. Tulio wants to mate him with Jewel (Anne Hathaway, outdoing her perkiness at the Oscars).
But birdnappers, goaded on by a cocky cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement—love him), intervene. That’s when Blu and Jewel go on the run in Rio, conveniently during Carnival. Cue the action and the music, everything from will.i.am remixes to Sergio Mendes’ samba-infused “Mas Que Nada,” and we’re off.
I have to admit that the 3D bird flight off the Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains past the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer is something to take your breath away. For the rest, “Rio” is pretty much a standard issue kiddie timekiller. Best wait until the sequels to “Kung Fu Panda” and “Cars” rev up the cinemas.
Grade ★★ out of 5 stars
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