Bridget Reed Morawski ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
While not by any means a failed sequel, the magic of Rio is lost in Rio 2. The story opens with humans and animals alike ringing in the New Year on the beaches and in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Jewel (Anne Hathaway) decides the next day that her fledgling family needs to turn away from their human-like behavior and get back to their Amazonian roots. Despite Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) being a human in feathery form, he and the kids pack up with a few of their friends (George Lopez as Rafael, Jamie Foxx as Nico). Lost in the depths of the Amazon, the troupe reunites Jewel with her long-lost father, Eduardo (Andy Garcia), just before it is discovered that the entire colony of Spix’s macaws is in danger of losing their entire ecosystem to an illegal logging operation.
The story primarily focuses on the Meet-the-Parents relationship between Eduardo and Blu, as well as Blu’s difficulty accepting the wilderness as his true origin and home, though a number of smaller plots are introduced that distract rather than add to their journey. The vengeful cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) is back and, after seeing the macaw family at a pit stop in Macau, breaks from his new master and seeks to murder Blu.
Nico and Pedro (will.i.am) are talent scouting the Amazon for fresh acts for their carnival spot. Blu has an ongoing jealousy toward a seemingly perfect old friend of Jewel’s. Linda and Tulio (Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro, respectively) are in the Amazon, searching for the elusive Spix’s macaw colony they suspect exist, before being swept up into the grasp of the loggers.
It’s a lot for an hour and forty minute long cartoon, and not all of these smaller plots are really necessary. Several characters – including, regretfully, Nico, Pedro, and Rafael – didn’t have a very strong purpose for being included in the movie. For the sake of continuity, they seem to have made it to the sequel, but despite having limited involvement in the plot the group seems to pop up in almost every scene.
The musical numbers were generally lacking the heart-warming feel that we’ve come to expect from animated movies. The best was the romantic, operatic ballad by the frog Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), directed toward Nigel as he sleeps. Besides that, the songs are few and far between and almost feel like an after-thought, generated by the knowledge that an animated, kid’s movie without song-and-dance is blasphemous.
The humor, however, is spot on, and clearly resonated with the multi-generational audience. A lot of memorable one-liners and slapstick gags will make this movie a success. It’s a cute sequel, and the kids will like it. It’s not terrible by any means, despite its flaws. But if you’re merely a kid at heart, it might be best to wait for this sequel to hit DVD.
Overall Grade: B+