Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Film Review: Rio

You'd be hard pressed to dislike Rio. It's bright, bouncy and features music you can't help but waggle your booty to. In a way then it brings a little bit of that infectious, feel-good atmosphere which draws millions to Carnival in Rio De Janeiro every year. However, where Carnival would probably be an experience ingrained on you for the rest of your life, unfortunately for all Rio's charm, it doesn't quite have the same impact.

Blu is a neurotic macaw (character traits ideal for Jesse Eisenberg, or perhaps Michael Cera) leading a pampered lifestyle with owner and best friend Linda (Mann) in Minnesota. Blu's world is suddenly thrown into disarray when a Brazilian ornithologist, Tulio (Santoro), convinces Linda to bring him to Rio De Janeiro for the expressed purpose of mating with the last female macaw of his species, Jewel (Hathaway). Things go from bad to worse when he and his feisty new companion become targets for poachers looking to sell them on the black market.

Nothing about Rio really distinguishes it from the plethora of other animated films in the same vein. It unfortunately falls into the trap of being predictable in a 'set 'em up, knock 'em down' kind of way where, merely through listing the archetypes of characters you can guess what will happen. And yet Rio is also a welcome assault on the senses oozing visual stimuli from every corner. It's a ride still so incredibly vibrant with voice acting so charming and music so uplifting that even in spite of Rio's genericness it remains difficult not to like. Flight of the Concords' Jemaine Clement is so delightful in his portrayal of crooked cockatoo, Nigel, that you just wish he was onscreen more. Likewise, Jamie Foxx and Will.I.Am's sassy bird buddy duo add extra lift to proceedings, if you'll excuse the pun. It is exactly what coloured fluff should be.

Rio is as exuberant and full of life as the city after which it was named. It is packed with the usual humour and romance you would expect which will capture the audience for its duration. Unfortunately however it's a bit like a shot of pixie dust. By the time you exit the cinema all the pretty colours will have dissipated from one's memory. At least you certainly won't be begrudging Hollywood oligarchs for cashing in on yet another CGI animated gimmick. If you want to be charmed for ninety-minutes, go to Rio.