Call me a stony-hearted cynic, an elitist buffoon detached from the interests of the modern eight year-old – if you will, but this sequel feels like a twee attempt to wring cash from the pockets of harassed parents with some by-the-numbers singing and dancing.
Rio 2, pre-empting a World Cup in the South American capital of carnival, makes perfect sense on the balance-sheet; it’s just a shame Carlos Saldanha hasn’t justified this sequel’s existence in a more creative fashion.
Anxious hypochondriac, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is living a relatively sheltered life with his wife, Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their offspring in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Believing themselves to be the last blue macaws on the planet, the family has slipped into a life of domesticity, relying on their human neighbours for sustenance and accommodation. Blu is in his element cooking pancakes and devouring tins of processed nuts, but Jewel longs for the wild and freedom of the countryside. When their former owners, scientists Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) stumble across a hidden tribe of blue macaws deep in the Amazon, the family leave the city in search of their brethren, wrenching Blu out of his cosseted life of comfort.
The family’s traipse up-river dumps Blu into some unfamiliar surroundings, prompting a bird-out-of-home twist on a fish-out-of-water story. Not in and of itself a bad thing, but the comedy never gets much more sophisticated than repeatedly emphasising Blu’s struggles to get to grips with country life and win the approval of his petulant father-in-law.
It’s part City Slickers, part Meet the Parents with a couple of sagging sub-plots so as not to exclude the first film’s peripheral characters: Nigel, the dramatic cockatoo tags along to wreak his revenge on Blu while Nico and Pedro hold a talent show to unearth the best of the rainforest’s singing ability. It’s a relentlessly loud and unnervingly colourful affair that sees the bird inhabitants of this universe constantly converse through the medium of inane slang, never more than a moment’s notice from another blisteringly exasperating song. Far too many characters here are delighted by the sound of their own voices and, unbelievably, animated in such as way as to make it seem as if they’re actually overacting.
One moment of enjoyment comes in the form of a thoroughly odd montage featuring dancing tortoises and, disturbingly, piranhas devouring some of the extras; but I’m not convinced even this will be enough to placate hordes of monstrous children high on a cocktail of e-numbers and disco tunes. That this has such a positively worthy pro-environment message and still comes across as tiresomely juvenile almost beggars belief. Almost certainly there’ll be another of these in the near future and the blu-ray will be on hard repeat in parents’ homes; a distressing portent of impending insanity for mums and dads that makes me want to say: “no, stop that pigeon”.
Animation, Adventure, comedy
20th Century Fox Pictures
4th April 2014 (UK)
Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement , Bruno Mars, Jamie Foxx