Jesse Eisenberg. The hyperactive, spastic young adult thing has worked in previous films due to unique storylines, high entertainment value and strong supporting casts. Zombieland, Adventureland, The Social Network and even 30 Minutes or Less were engaging and entertaining in their own ways. Unfortunately for Mr. Eisenberg and his film persona, Rio provided no support in any of those categories, bringing his character to the forefront of annoyance.


Blu (Eisenberg) is a domesticated blue Macaw in small-town Minnesota, and as his owner Linda (Leslie Mann) learns, is among the last two of his kind. Blu and Linda are flown (funny since Blu can’t) to Rio by ornithologist, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), to introduce Blu and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), the final female blue Macaw. As they begin to become acquainted, smugglers snatch the pair from Tulio’s facility to be sold on the black market under the guise of Carnaval. The adventure takes flight as Blu and Jewel escape in search of Linda, the smugglers set off in search of their rare birds and Linda searches for her beloved bird and only friend.

The only appealing aspect of Rio to anyone over the age of ten is the depiction of Rio, itself. The colors and scenery are jaw-dropping and quite detailed. This is all before Caranaval, so you can only imagine how amazing the scenes of the carnival turn out. Apart from the actual imagery though, there is not much about Rio that is alluring, or even remotely unique.

As can be expected from such a movie, the beginning and end are songs attempting to reach the stature of the Disney songs of old, but end up feeling tired and overused. There are more throughout the film, especially the number by Nigel (Jermaine Clement), that try to mix contemporary pop with the Disney style. These, while fun for the kids, will make adults groan with exasperation. The characters are the same we have seen time and time again (see: marmosets almost mirroring the penguins from Madagascar).

The human characters are not memorable either. Linda is a complete shut-in working in a bookstore and only communicating with her mother and Blu. Tulio is a dreadful example of an experienced ornithologist with his awkward squawking and inability to interact with his own species. As mentioned earlier, Eisenberg isn’t given much help to cloak his lightning-fast nervous babble. Anne Hathaway is great…when on screen, but mediocre as a voice actress. Will.i.Am, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez and Jamie Foxx round out the crew compiled by Blu and Jewel on their journey. Shockingly, no one from that group makes their side character more noticeable, so the weight is left with Eisenberg, Hathaway and Mann, who has a good voice for a young female character, but tends to fall in the same category as Hathaway).

All in all, Rio is about expanding your horizons and not being afraid of the new and unknown. Sometimes you have to stop thinking and just go for it. Some animated films will attempt to convey that message, while trying to blur the line between adulthood and childhood making the film appealing for all. Rio doesn’t achieve this goal successfully. Kids will like it; adults will survive.

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