Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Nemo, but birds.
OLAY! You know what I fear with animated movies? It’s the same fear every time…the question of…is this a kids movie or a family movie? It could always be one or the other, and there is a difference. Some movies only kids can enjoy while adults squirm in disdain. Other movies are genuinely enjoyable for everyone involved…so which one was Rio? Oddly enough, it had elements from both sides. You might think that’s a good thing, but you forget – kids movies are always basically terrible and never a good thing. They are cheap and made simply to gather kids’ attention so adults can do other things without distraction. Family movies actually have a good amount of – well…everything that needs to be there. We’ll get to that, but first…plot.
Rio is about a bird named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) who was born in Rio, but raised in America with a woman named Linda. When a animal enthusiast recognizes Blu, he sees that the bird is actually one of the rarest birds in world – going extinct, and wants the bird to go to Rio and mate with another bird in the species. In Rio, Blu and his female counterpart are kidnapped and they must escape the clutches of the bad guys and return to Linda…there’s only one problem…he never learned how to fly.
The reason why I mentioned Finding Nemo is because it was an adventure flick about one loved one fighting to find the other and vice versa. One of the main characters also has an imperfection (little fin; flightless bird). Not only that, but the main character isn’t human…at the heart – it’s sort of the same thing – so it has a lot of the same themes and stories, but at the same time it has other messages. A big one was clearly about animal cruelty and doing the right thing in general.
However, I feel like Finding Nemo was a much stronger film, and fit more in with the “family” films than kids. Rio had way too much things that felt filler and “cute” put in there just for kids. I’m talking tiny, cute little birds with little cute voices. I’m talking about physical comedy and faces that are just there to be there – but don’t really further the story. It’s weird to have these elements because the rest of the movie is actually pretty decent – and then you get that.
I will say, however, that a lot of the music felt memorable – the acting is really good – especially Jesse Eisenberg as Blu. His voice oddly fits a birds really well. Above all that, though, the visuals are beautiful. I don’t know how they did it, but they seemed to get all of those small details about how a bird actually acts, and they amazingly mixed that with how a human reacts to the same things…and it turns into something pretty unique. You wouldn’t think so at first, but as far as animation goes, they really did outdo themselves here. Finally, they did another thing right – and that was the diversity of the different birds and how they interact with each other. I’m not usually a fan of George Lopez’s characters, but he fit so well here. So I can’t complain so much with how they crafted the story and characters.
There’s a lot of good to say about Rio. The animation was colorful, smooth, and unique – creating something that is genuinely beautiful to look at. The songs, as few as there were, were each memorable and songs kids could really enjoy. The diverse group of characters makes the movie what it is, and something a kid could easily watch 12 times on repeat (I’m speaking from experience here…not me, the kids).
There was just something…unseen that felt mediocre about the movie. I truly believe those were the elements cheaply thrown in there just to make a kid happy – which is unfortunate. I think the film had potential to be really great other than that.
Whenever I think about the theme song to Rio, I immediately make my own lyrics: “All the birds of the feather, love what they do most of all. Flying around, getting shot to the ground.”