Review: Rio (2011)

Rio is the latest animation film from Blue Sky Studios, and features the voice talents of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx.

The film centers on Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota, who, when he meets the fiercely independent Jewel (Anne Hathaway), takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with this bird of his dreams.

The peppy, action-packed and convivial screenplay – aside from struggling to sustain the party atmosphere to the end, and falling foul to the well-trodden romantic chase caper, and the trademark slapstick gags – combines charm, thrills, laughs and romance to admirable, sweet avail. It’s not overly complicated, and may feel a tad strained at times, but the approach is sharp enough to keep you entertained throughout.

The characters, including the humans, are under-developed and, no matter how top-notch the voice acting is, the dialogue feels too conventional and flaky to capture audiences attention like other, braver, animation films.

There is, however, one exception. Clement, who voices Nigel, a red-eyed cockatoo, steals every scene he’s in, even delivering a hilarious yet equally fearsome performance as the central villain.

In a technical sense, Rio is simply exquisite, with director Carlos Saldanha ensuring every scene twinkles with a remarkably high level of attention-to-detail. The 3D is crisp, richly attained with a tremendous depth of field, accentuating the glorious, picturesque scenery and wonderfully buoyant animation, and never feeling unnecessary.

The music, ranging from John Powell’s score to original songs by Taio Cruz and will.i.am, was tempestuous, but not always as soaring as you’d expect.

Rio may not be hugely original, and certainly has its share of flaws, but it has a refreshingly light, entertaining feel to it that, in addition to the superb animation and energetic voice acting, should leave you beaming from cheek to cheek.

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