There are two types of “good” animated, family movies. The first and best types are the ones that are legitimately good movies all on their own no matter what metric you decide to use.
The other type are the ones that are merely tolerable for adults (read: don’t make you want to gouge your own eyes out with soda straws) while effectively distracting the kids for a solid 90 minutes.
The first “Rio” flirted with entry into the first category thanks to its vivid, soaring animation and inspired musical numbers. “Rio 2” however lands awkwardly in the second category with seemingly no reason for existing other than: “hey, the first one was well-received and made a boat-load of money, let’s do it again!”
This shouldn’t be surprising since the “Rio” movies come from the same studio that produced “Ice Age” and its slew of diminishing sequels.
Of course if “Ice Age” is any indication, we should at least enjoy the “Rio” franchise while it is near the top of its eventual, steady decline.
“Rio 2” continues the fish-out-of-water story of a domesticated blue macaw named Blu (nervously voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) who finds avian love with Jewel (Anne Hathaway) in the samba-filled streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Now with three kids of their own, Blu and Jewel take their little flock deep into the Amazon rain forest to track down Jewel’s lost family.
There is lots of Blu not fitting in and running afoul of Jewel’s uber-macho father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) and suave ex-boyfriend Roberto (Bruno Mars).
There’s also some stuff involving loggers while George Lopez’s, Jamie Foxx’s, and Will I Am’s characters from the first film all tag along for no apparent reason whatsoever. Also back and bent on revenge is the villainous and now flightless cockatiel Nigel (Jemaine Clement, who nearly singlehandedly stole the first movie) whose entourage now consists of a mute anteater and an amorous poison dart frog voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.
Needless to say, the plot is a bit of a jumbled mess.
But once again “Rio 2” is redeemed by energetic musical numbers and beautiful, idyllic animation sure to please the Brazilian tourism board.
In spite of some sloppiness, this movie earns a lot of goodwill for having its heart in the right place. Sure it’s great when an animated, family movie is good no matter which way you slice it. But we parents understand the value of movies like “Rio 2” as an hour-and-a-half of uninspired, consistent distraction can be worth its weight in gold.
“Rio 2” is rated G.