A timely sequel in a world cup year, Rio 2 doesn't mess with what made the original a success - goofy bird, pretty pictures - but there's a feeling that these movies are holding back: where are the big jokes?
Blu (Eisenberg) and Jewel (Hathaway) are still together and are content in their domesticated lives until the news proclaims that another macaw has been found deep in the amazon, stirring hope that more exist. Blu and Jewel, and their three children, take off in search of the colony, or 'infestation' as Nigel (Clement) calls it, the evil genius cockatoo still smarting over his last confrontation with Blu and is in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) battle loggers who are cutting down trees near where the colony is supposed to be...
It's all things bright and beautiful again. With an emphasis on the striking visuals, the jokes are sadly missing however. Yes, it's slightly humorous and light-hearted throughout but there isn't a thigh-slapper in show; kids will giggle at the pratfalls but is there anything to be said for a proper one-liner? With Jewel's disapproving father (Garcia) and former hunky beau (Bruno Mars) turning up, there was a chance for Blu to experience a Meet The Parents type dynamic but this Rio franchise tends to fly past opportunities for tomfoolery.
While Eisenberg's voice and onscreen persona are suited to Blu, the problem is that when he speaks you don't see the bird but man, in a studio booth, in a T-shirt, skinny latte in hand. Probably a half-eaten sandwich on the seat there. You don't get this with Hathaway, as it could be anyone voicing Jewel she's that bland a character (I had to check who voiced the sidekick birds - turns out it's will.i.am and Jamie Foxx. Who would have thought?)
The music manages that unique quality of being irritating and forgettable. All except Poisonous Love, a tune sung by the franchise's latest addition: Kristin Chenoweth's poisonous tree frog. With striking looks and a devotion to Nigel so strong it borders on psychotic, the frog could carry her own movie.
Kids will like the colours but not much else.