Tuesday, April 05, 2011

RIO - It Pulsates With Fun and Adventure

RIO (animated romantic adventure)
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, George Lopez, Will i Am, Carlos Ponce and Kate del Castillo
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Screenplay: Don Rhymer
Time: 96 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway)

PREAMBLE: Rio - this little word evokes colourful visions of scantily clad dancers taking part in the famous Brazilian Carnivale and it pulsates with vibrant samba rhythms. Throw in a couple of rare birds, a couple of love stories and splash them in Digital 3D and we have a compelling family treat the likes of Ice Age and Madagascar!

THE SKINNY: Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is a blue macaw who is smuggled from his rainforest home as a baby and flown off to America. As fate would have it he falls off the back of a truck and is rescued by a young girl named Linda (Leslie Mann) who becomes her bets friend and companion.

One day, bird-conservationist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) shows up and persuades Linda to take Blu back to Rio de Janeiro so he can mate with Jewel (Anne Hathaway), the last remaining female of the species. However, in Brazil, the courtship between Blu and Jewel gets off to a rocky start mainly because Blu never learned how to fly. And when they are kidnapped by animal smugglers, they need a variety of locals to help them escape, especially from a menacing cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement).

HITS AND MISSES: It is always refreshing to have a movie where the technical thrills are complemented by an exhilarating narrative. Besides the predictable plot and obvious message about wildlife rescue and conservation, Rio is also about relationships. Written by Don Rhymer, the characterisations are well developed and riveting. First, there is the tight bond between Linda and Blu, a relationship anyone who has a pet would understand and root for. Linda cannot bear to have Blu out of her sight. Next, there is the budding romance between Linda and Tulio - an affair made interesting in the vibrant carnivale setting of Rio.

And then there is another budding 'romance' between Blu and Jewel - an affair complicated by the fact that they are chained together - and he does not know how to fly. Other ties involve those of a young boy and a gang of smugglers - and a nasty cockatoo who would even 'team up' with the monkeys to get what he wants. Indeed, the characters are so well fleshed out that even the villains are charming and memorable. You can bet that the kids are going to lap them up. And if the Ice Age trilogy is anything to go by, we are likely to have sequels!

THE LOWDOWN: Yes folks, Rio spells wacky fun for everyone.


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