Film Title: Rio 2
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars
Running Time: 101 min
As this colourful sequel opens, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), the domesticated Minnesota macaw hero of 2011’s Rio, has settled down with his significant other, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and a flock of wise-cracking, antic-making chicks in a Rio de Janeiro reserve.
When Blu’s owners go missing in the Amazon rainforest, the family takes off to face illegal loggers, Blu’s intimidating in-laws and returning villain Nigel (Jemaine Clement). Can a neurotic bird with an itemised fanny pack survive against such odds? And so forth. Feathered booty-shaking and half-baked environmental messages quickly ensue.
Back in the day, Blue Sky animation studios were the cool little imprint that could. The films were not quite up there with Pixar’s finest, but the makers of the Ice Age series brought wit and heart to its creations when rival Dreamworks products were content to coast on creaky pop culture references and snark.
Where did it all wrong? For all the forced jollity and mardi gras musical numbers, Rio 2 feels like a dirge – a dirge set to the strains of Gloria Gaynor. The musical numbers provide (overly) ample padding around a reedy plot. Reoccurring celebrities Jamie Foxx and will.i.am are joined, pointlessly, by Bruno Mars as Jewel’s old flame. The starry cast only serves to remind us of such unlovely A-list crushes as Shark Tale and Chicken Little. Say nothing: the only comedy here is the comedy of recognition. Bruno Mars? Ha ha ha ha. Etc. Etc.
At least the animation is pretty. Representations of once technically tricky things like water and fur are fluid and seamless. Humans, alas, still look dreadful, even when heavily stylised. Rio 2 will do fine as spring break fodder, we suppose. But only if you’re properly tired of repeat viewings of The Lego Movie.
Not. As. Good. As. The. First. One.