Rio (3D) is a perfectly average kiddies’ flick, although, as it’s Easter and the kiddies are off school, anything that might amuse them and get them out of your hair should not, I suppose, be sniffed at, and this should do the trick; this is something you can park them at on the days you can’t dump them at grandma’s (grandmas love looking after their grandchildren.
Rio (3D) is a perfectly average kiddies’ flick, although, as it’s Easter and the kiddies are off school, anything that might amuse them and get them out of your hair should not, I suppose, be sniffed at, and this should do the trick; this is something you can park them at on the days you can’t dump them at grandma’s (grandmas love looking after their grandchildren. They may protest: ‘But I’ve got bridge!’ Or: ‘I’m getting my hair done!’ But, if you are quick, you’ll have sped away by then, anyhow). However, if grandma has moved without leaving a forwarding address, as grandmas sometimes do, because they can be quite selfish, this will, at least, buy you 90 minutes of peace.
It’s colourful. The animation seems sufficiently animated. Kids will like it. But it’s not original in any way, has a narrative that’s purely functional — goodies; baddies; baddies chasing goodies — and then there’s the wretched 3D business. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Hate the stupid, uncomfortable glasses. Hate the eye strain. And it adds nothing. We can see 2D as if it were 3D, anyhow. Our brain makes the conversion. It’s what brains do. 3D is to movies what, say, ‘detox diets’ are to health. You don’t need to detox. It’s what livers do. Brains and livers. They’re pretty cool, when you think about them. They should be left to it, just as grandma should be left to it with the grandkids for the day, or the week if you think you can swing it.
Rio opens well enough. It even opens wonderfully. It opens in a Brazilian rainforest with all these fantastically vivid birds swooping and singing and having a high old time, and at this point I sat up, pushed the stupid glasses back up my nose and thought, ‘This is going to be great.’ But then the script kicks in and then the humans kick in and then the predictable narrative kicks in and we move to Minnesota and the pure energy of the first two minutes is lost and never recaptured.
So, now we’re in Minnesota, home of Blu, an imported, domesticated blue macaw who is too afraid to fly — do you think he’ll fly by the end? Do you? — who lives with his owner, Linda. Blu and Linda are best friends. Blu and Linda do everything together, like Wallace and Gromit. Linda loves Blu. Blu loves Linda. But then a Brazilian ornithologist trucks up to say that, although Blu was thought to be the last of his kind, they’ve found a female back in Brazil, and the two must be mated for the sake of the species.
So off they go to Rio, where it happens to be carnival time — do you think there will be a chase through the carnival floats? Do you? — and Blu and the lady bird, Jewel, are introduced and immediately fall in love. Only kidding. They hate each other initially, but maybe they’ll fall in love by the end? There is always the chance of that, I suppose.
Anyway, Blu and Jewel are kidnapped by bungling animal smugglers, and must escape, as they do with the help of various friends they have picked up along the way; various city birds voiced by the likes of Will-i-Am and Jamie Foxx. These friends, I think, are meant to be ‘wise-cracking’ although, as I can’t now remember anything wise they cracked, I don’t think they are premier-league wise-crackers. They are more the Vauxhall conference. The voice of Blu, by the way, is supplied by Jesse Eisenberg while Jewel is Anne Hathaway. It’s weird, this big-money celebrity voicing as the kids don’t care, while I‘ve never heard an adult say, ‘I must go see that film. It has Jesse Eisenberg’s voice in it.’ They could have spent the money on something else, like a better story.
Look, Rio is OK, or at least OK-ish. And there is quite a funny bulldog in it. But it’s ultimately unimaginative and extremely forgettable. It is no Shrek or Toy Story or what have you, and the 3D is a nonsense. Let brains do what they are meant to do. That’s the lesson for today, and the lesson for next week? How to look after the kids yourself and do lots of boring stuff with glitter. This is an option, of course, but do always ask yourself this: how is it going to make grandma feel? When you can find her?