Film review: Rio 2 (U, 101 min)

Just go with the rhythm

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 5th April 2014, 1:00 pm
Rio 2: Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement)
Rio 2: Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement)

Intoxicating samba rhythms and the exuberance of Brazilian carnival get toes tapping in Carlos Saldanha’s assured and undemanding sequel, which transports the feathered protagonists away from Rio de Janeiro for a rollicking rumble in the Amazonian jungle.

As with the original film, Rio 2 promotes a serious ecological message: the wanton destruction of the rainforest and its impact on native wildlife.

This cri de coeur is woven by Saldanha and co-writer Don Rhymer into a familiar yarn about love overcoming adversity, a story that sees one neurotic city bird stripped of his home comforts and fluttering back to nature in order to please his family.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“Happy wife, happy life,” counsels a Toucan called Rafael (George Lopez).

He is one of the wacky computer-animated critters, who festoon the colour-saturated screen and guarantee hordes of happy children.

Little ones will gurgle with glee at the slapstick including a hungry anteater called Charlie, whose lasso-like tongue is always on the prowl for tasty snacks.

Adults meanwhile can savour the dry humour of musical interludes including a ballad between a toxic tree frog and a cockatoo entitled Poisonous Love which includes the delightful boast, “If you play ping pong, I’ll play ping ponger”.

Neurotic blue macaw Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are at the centre of the action once again.

The birds have settled with owners Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) in Rio and have three children, Carla (Rachel Crow), Bia (Amandla Stenberg) and Tiago (Pierce Gagnon).

Jewel fears the brood is too domesticated so when Tulio and Linda uncover evidence of thriving blue macaws in the Amazon, the mother insists her entire family answers the call of the wild.

In the lush paradise, the city birds are reunited with Jewel’s long-lost father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) and her tuneful childhood pal, Roberto (Bruno Mars).

Jewel is thrilled – “We found our family. This changes everything!” – but Blu struggles to acclimatize to his new surroundings.

Meanwhile, deranged cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and love-sick amphibian sidekick Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth) hatch a diabolical scheme to exact revenge on the unsuspecting macaws.

“I’ll be pooping on your party promptly,” cackles the flightless villain to himself.

Rio 2 is a predictable fish-out-of-water adventure that forces Blu to ditch his sat nav and lead the flock in a battle against illegal loggers, who are tearing down the jungle.

The enduring love between the hero and his passionate wife invariably trumps mankind’s voracious greed.

Comic relief from Clement, Chenoweth and the supporting cast is gentle and inoffensive.

The soundtrack shimmies to upbeat numbers from Hathaway, Mars and an infectious opening refrain from Janelle Monae entitled “What Is Love?”.

Even if some gags induce groans rather than giggles, the rhythm is gonna get you.

Animation/Family/Comedy/Romance/Action. Featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruno Mars, George Lopez,, Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon, Rita Moreno. Director: Carlos Saldanha.