Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 15, 2014

‘Rio 2’ average effort, but still a family win

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — Though Hollywood will never truly abandon milking characters for franchises well past the expiration date, I will say that even the most mediocre series seems to be getting at least more tolerable than in the past. Thankfully today’s title at least sounded a lot more interesting than 2015’s fifth “Ice Age” movie and featured characters who haven’t yet lost their original spark.

The key thing here is that while it does not inspire as much wow as standouts like “Peabody and Mr. Sherman” or “The Lego Movie,” there is enough effort made to justify there being a follow up adventure. Even when the story gets weak, the visual elements tend to take make up for it and it is further complimented by a score that can be enjoyed on its own. “Rio 2” may not inspire a lot of repeat viewings outside the immediate target audience, but it is worth the moment’s distraction.

Set a few years after the first film, Macaws Blue (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are doing well enough on their own while raising three little birds in an animal sanctuary. Blue is still struggling to shed the lush perks of captivity life while Jewel would prefer to expose her young ones to what life is like for wild macaws with that theme only to become more dominant as the film progresses.

Things really get interesting when the family learns that Blue’s former caretaker, Linda Gunderson (Leslie Mann) and her husband Tulio Monteiro (Rodrigo Santoro), discover that our bird couple may not be the last of their kind, launching an animal version of a Griswold’s vacation. Heading to the Amazon with some their feathered friends from the first film, we soon learn this secret flock of Macaw’s not only includes Jewel’s own father Eduardo (Andy García), but a former crush named Roberto (Bruno Mars). Mix in a classic never going to fit in plot with an evil plan of revenge by returning Cockatiel villain Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and the story at least has a couple of pretty good multiple narratives going for it.

The thing that kind of hurts the flick from that point on is that there is also an evil logging company trying mess things up as well as a rival gang of red macaws thrown in to try and get screen time. It doesn’t so much ruin the flow, but before too long, it gets so busy that I wonder if the latter two elements could have been saved for a likely third chapter.

Still, some of the high points included well-constructed laughs even for the minor characters and the very clever Romeo and Juliet relationship between Nigel and a poison dart frog named Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth). In the end, it all frenetically works itself out well enough. For its acceptable efforts, the final verdict for “Rio 2 is a squawking three out of five feathers.

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.