Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg are back to lend their voices to Jewel and Blu, a pair of supposedly rare Spix's Macaws living in Rio de Janeiro with their three kids. Their owners, Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann) and Tulio (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro) are on an exhibition in the Amazon rainforest searching for what's left of the Spix's Macaws' population.
Jewel decides a trip to the Amazon is in order, and much to Blu's horror, the five of them fly off to join Linda and Tulio using the GPS on Blu's phone. But, all is not well in the rainforest. Loggers are illegally destroying the trees, and the new homeland of Jewels' father, Eduardo (voiced by Andy Garcia), whom Jewel thought was lost forever. It is up to Linda, Tulio and all of the birds to save this precious sanctuary.
"Rio 2" is a lively, colorful, amusing 3D computer-animated adventure. Jemaine Clement has also returned to voice Nigel, the manipulative, revenge-seeking cockatoo, determined to slay Blu. This time around, he has a new sidekick named Gabi (voiced by the indomitable Kristin Chenoweth), a poison dart frog who will do anything for her Nigel. And it is Chenoweth who makes "Rio 2" such great fun. Her crazy personality comes blasting out of Gabi like a cannon. And that voice --- she's a hoot!
Though the film does slow down a bit in the middle, and our 7-year-old nephew became a tad restless, the bulk of "Rio 2" is highly entertaining for everyone. One cannot help get caught up in all of the gorgeous colors of the rainforest.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
We missed the first "Rio" film, so I can't say if this sequel has any new wrinkles or innovations. I can say it is above average for an animated feature- length movie, with very good performances from its voice talents.
Jesse Eisenberg voices the lead character, Blu, the patriarch of a family of rare blue macaws, including his wife, Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway), and their three cute kids. They have a seemingly comfortable life in Rio, living more like humans than birds. But they decide to uproot their lives when they espy a TV newscast declaring the existence of rare blue macaws in the Amazonian jungles. "Today" show news anchor Natalie Morales, a Brazilian native herself, voices the animated TV newsperson breaking the story.
Jewel is actually the driving force in convincing Blu to fly to the Amazon, realizing there may be others like them. Despite the potential dangers of a new environment, Blu is also motivated by the recurring theme that “a happy wife means a happy life!” This is repeated often enough in the film that my illustrious partner glared at me several times during our screening because I don't always heed that advice.
"Rio 2" is the brain child of director Carlos Saldanha, the filmmaker behind the "Ice Age" animated features. His sequel is infused with spectacular scenery, toe-tapping music, and a myriad of creatures and colors.
Saldanha brings back many of the actors from "Rio", including Jamie Foxx (Nico), Leslie Mann (Linda) and Rodrigo Santoro (Tulio). Linda, Blu's best friend from the first film, and Tulio, are scientists, now married, who travel to the Amazon in their quest to protect the avian wildlife.
New to the cast are Andy Garcia (Eduardo), Rita Moreno (Aunt Mimi), Bruno Mars (Roberto) and my personal favorite, Kristin Chenoweth (Gabi), playing a poisonous pink frog with fabulous pipes. Oscar-nominated ("How to Train Your Dragon") British composer John Powell provides the score, no doubt influenced by the legendary Sergio Mendes, the film's executive music producer, who also has a small voice role.
"Rio 2" is fun for everyone, and it should be seen in 3D on the big screen.
Opinion: See It Now!