Rio is property of Blue Sky Studios/20th Century Fox
NOTE: Remember how the Little Nicky was never actually finished, and I only covered 50 minutes of movie? Yeah….that happened again. Like last time, it was partly due to “production” troubles but this time it also has to do with my own laziness. The review was a day late as it is, so I just gave up. HOWEVER, I’ve seen the movie before, so I feel like I can give a real review for this one. So….sorry.
Hello, Spongey here.
When it comes to animation studios, we are all familiar with the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks. But there us one studio that produces solid efforts, that doesn;t get the credit it deserves: Blue Sky.
While Dreamworks is known for the pop culture references and Pixar is known for great art, Blue Sky seems to be only known for the cash cow that is Ice Age. And to be fair, considering a 5th one is upon us, it’s hard not to think of it.
However, this company has far more to offer other than underrated sequels and one crappy sequel. All their films other than that seem to be forgotten not long after release, and the reviews always say “Great animation, lousy story”.
I think that’s pretty unfair, because there is more to some of these flicks than meets the eye, but I’ll get to “Epic” and Robots some other time. Today, we look at the film that seems to the most praise from people, that shows both the strengths and weakness of this studio.
More so than any other studio, Blue Sky is good at respecting an artists vision. Horton Hears a who perfectly uses the style of Dr Suess, Epic showcases the style of William Joyce, and so on. That is also true of this film, which is the baby of director Carlos Saldanha
As you can guess from his name, he is Brazilian and he really wanted to do this flick as a tribute to the place, especially since there hadn’t been a lot of accurate portrayals of the titular city on film before.
And so in 2011, the film was released to great box office (making it their highest grossing original film), and decent reviews, with a 72 on Rotten Tomatoes (though their best reviewed films seem to be Ice Age 1, and Horton hears a who) , saying what this entire review will say. On the writing, we have 4 writers (and yet the film is actually not a jumbled mess). One who wrote the previously reviewed Under Wraps, (who is now dead, which sucks), one who no Wikipedia page so he must not have done anything important, and the other 2 did the previously reviewed Yogi Bear.
A bit of a mixed bag, but the resulting film is a decent flick and with the unnecessary but sure to be fun sequel coming out I might well take a look at the first one. It’s not the best animated film of 2011 by any means, but it has it’s own charms as we’ll see here.
So, let’s see why exactly this ended up being one of Blue Sky’s more memorable efforts, despite one crack in NC’s Face/Off review. As long as he doesn’t put an odd, mean jab at the studio in his latest re- DAMMIT DOUG
This, is Rio
The movie opens in, you guessed it, Berlin. Nah, it’s the jungles of Brazil a bunch of birds have a colorfully animated dance party, with our first song. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this is a musical, but so did the marketing. It’s what I like to call a “Secret musical” since apparently musicals do very poorly now.
This number, called “Real in Rio” a lot of fun with a catchy beat and some really spectacular animation. You’d have to see it for yourself, but it’s one of numbers that sucks you into the movie as soon as it starts. It even got an Oscar nomination, but it was beat out but Man or Muppet, which I am very cool with.
We see a baby Mccaw joining in on the fun….until generic animal finder people show up and take him away. And this happens before the song can properly end, by the way. The truck he’s being carried in accidentally drops him in the middle of some snow-y village.
A little girl finds him and promises she will take care of him. After dropping the main character was dragged out of his habitat as a kid” cliché on us, we get montage of the girl and the bird growing up to be the best, and weirdest, of friends. We cut to the present day as the girl has grown to be Linda, voiced by Lesilee Mann, and she is still besties with Blu, the bird, to the point where he gets her up in the morning.
Man, I wish I had a bird alarm clock. Then again, it’s only one step away from Flintstones technology.
We get an adorable little montage of them helping each other throughout the morning and having fun. You really get a sense that they are pretty awesome friends, even if a grown woman being friends with a bird is kind of creepy.
She goes to her job at a bookstore, as Blu talks to himself about his fun life. Also, he’s voiced by Jesse Ensienberg, which really is perfect casting considering Blu is very awkward and all that. Insert jab at his casting as Lex Luthor here.
Blu is mocked by some two birds that are outside, voiced by Jane Lynch, and Wanda Sykes. This is another movie with a lot of repeat actors, guys. This pointless bit thankfully ends as our plot truly begins.
A dude named Tulio visits the book store, and he’s a doctor from Rio, who has come for Blu. He uses crazy movements to communicate with Blu and say hi.
“I did not get that all”
I can’t say “That was funny” in a positive review so i’ll just say “heh”.Tulio tells Linda that Blu is the last male of his kind.
“Recently, we’ve found a female, and we’re hoping to bring the 2 together and save the species!”
Yep, that cliché. Infact, the basic story for this film has been done (which is not uncommon for Blue Sky films, sad to say) before. Heck, it’s one of the films that lead to Pixar’s Newt being canned, due to it’s similar premise. I’d talk about how I feel about it, but I’ll comment as we go long.
Tulio also tells her that she and Blu must go to Rio to get his pussy. You know, as Cracked pointed out, this doesn’t really make sense. The only way the babies they make would help make more birds, is if you put incest into it and ew no.
“He’s not big on travel. He can’t even fly”
Oddly enough, that is a cliché. Even Planes ended up doing it, to less funny results. Linda ultimately says no, and our movies a mere 10 minutes in. Nah, there’s a lot more.
That night, Blu tries to teach himself to fly and spoilers, he falls flat on his butt. Later, Linda “talks” to him and she decides that they fly go to Rio, as it is good for the bird. And so, at the 12 minute mark, we’re already off to Rio.
At least here, it makes bit more sense as we had some okay set up and I expected a movie called Rio to get there quickly. They have conveniently arrived during Carnival, the biggest celebration in Brazil. It’s an excuse to give us some lovely visuals, but it’s still cool.
I suppose it’s a good time to discuss the animation, which is fantastic. Aside from Epic this has some of the studios best animation. It’s very bright and colorful, which may due to the exotic location. The character animation is nice and smoothy, and it manages to be both cartoon-y and realistic.
I believe this was the first time we had prominent humans in a Blue Sky film that looked decent. Before, we had a few in Ice Age 1 and they looked kind of crappy. But here, they look pretty good. Of course they would later perfect humans in Epic, but again, that’s a review for another time.
While they drive through the city, Blu meets two birds, one of which is voiced by will I am, fulfilling the “hip character voiced by a rapper” quota. They don’t much in this scene except tell Blu to be a love hog or whatever.
They arrive at Tulio’s workplace, where they take care of poor birds that are often found hurt. They quickly trap him in this big room where his new lady is, except we see that she clawed a dude, so Blu is scared of her now.
Until he actually meets her and while she tries to kick his ass at first, she gets off of him and when she sees he looks like her. Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway, assume he is here to help her break out.
But it all goes sour, when she finds he assumed they were gonna have hot bird sex. While Mark Zuckerberg gets his ass kicked by Catwoman, Tulio and Linda give them some space. A security guard is distracted by this particularly sick cockatoo that suddenly attacks him.
As you likely guessed, he isn’t dick and he’s also kind of our villain. While he does evil stuff, Blu and Jewel continue to argue as Jewel bashes him for being a “pet”.
“You would rather be with a human than with your own kind”
Blu rightfully points that the human has treated with love, while Jewel has done nothing but kick his ass. As you guessed, we’re going with the “Mismatch couple that will learn to love” cliché as well as the rest of these cliches. To be fair, these character are funny enough to carry it, and though mostly thanks to the solid voice work.
Meanwhile, Tulio and Linda go out to dinner, as they are our “backup couple” so to speak. It goes a bit more typically, but they are kind of adorable anyway. She randomly get scared and angry because of all this crazy crap the restaurant does.
She bitches at Tulio because it’s his fault she is here.
“Squawk Squawkity Squawk Squawk! ….Sorry, I didn’t mean to curse”
On the more interesting side of the plot, a kid shows up, captures our bird heroes, and takes them to his shady boss. The boss is this big crime dude and Fernando, the kid,has been hired one of his many goons. The kid is voiced by Jake T Austin, making this a vast improvement from that other movie he was in that year.
The birds quickly escape but Nigel, the evil bird from earlier, shows up and captures them before he works for the evil guy. Naturally, the evil guy plans to sell the last 2 living blue macaws (and he’s so incompetent he needed a cockatoo to help?) because bad guys love selling things I guess.
Blu and Jewel are taken to a room with a bunch of of crazy birds the bad guys have captured. The evil guy lies to Fernando and tells him that the birds are going to a good home, because people with evil birds are trustworthy. Also, the kid has no Mom and he lives on the street. Well, that just made him a woobie real fast. (It was either or a crack about the ending of the Wizards movie had a dark turn after all)
Right after leaving, he spies on the guys and finds out that they are gonna sell the bird. Well, at least we got that out of the way quickly. After he sulks for a bit, the main bad guy leaves and tells his goons to feed Nigel.
After that goes the way you expect, Nigel visits the other captured birds and then threatens our heroes. He tells us, I mean them, that he uses to be pretty, and he also uses to be a big star.
He elaborates…in song. Yep, 29 minutes in and we’re only now getting another song. It’s not so much a musical, as it is a movie with songs in it. Anyway, this is a pretty fun villain song, with Jemaine Celement, the voice of Nigel, making up for his previous appearance on this blog (Dinner for Shumcks). Yeah, it has a rap verse and people consider it to be the weakest song in the movie, but I actually think it’s the best one.
Sorry, but I’m a sucker for a decent villain song. He explains that he was a star until he got a bit older, and was replaced by a young parakeet.
That is why I am so evil, why I do what I do.
Eh, I’ve worse excuses for evil. The soundtrack version has an extra verse which makes the song a bit more complete. Also, the rap verse has this:
Like an abandoned school, I have no Principal
…That was kind of a cute pun.
After that awesome-ness, he leaves just as quickly as he arrived. Blu and Jewel escape from their cage, because it had a simple door (great plan, Nigel) but they are stopped by Blu’s inability to fly.
They do escape, but now we get a chase scene as the goons and Nigel try to get them back. They get away from the bad guys but they end up in the jungle, which does not please Blu. Thankfully, they tough it out, find shelter, and go to sleep.
While this is going on, Tulio and Linda discover that the bird are missing and spend all night trying to find them. The next morning, Fernando bumps into them and tells them he knows where they are. This is shaping up to be one of those reviews where I just recap the plot and say nothing insightful or funny.
So, every review then.
The evil goons return to their boss who is not happy that the birds are gone. So he puts Nigel in charge because he thinks that lowly of the goons. Nice.
We cut back to our heroes, as I tell you that they are chained together, which I failed to mention before. They are trying to break the chain so they can go their separate ways. Before that can happen, they bump into this Toucan voiced by George Lopez, who has 17 kids. Damn, he gets around, doesn’t he?
If you thought he was the kind of guy who had a bad wife, then you would be right but that’s not important. Our heroes asks Rafeel, who is cool but not rude,if he can help them break the chain. He says he knows a guy named Luiz who can help, so they head out.
Elsewhere in the jungle, Nigel meets up with a gang of monkeys, (just go with it) to make them help him captured Blu and Jewel. The two birds, plus Lopez, end up on a cliff and they must fly over this big gap thingy to get to their destination.
Naturally, Blu isn’t up for it so they must help him find his flight skills. Since he chained to a bird that can fly, Raf tells them that one must flap their left wing, and the other flaps their right wing.
“That doesn’t seem aerodynamically possible”
Saying that kind of stuff is my job!
“You think too much”
This kind of works, as the two end up on some guys para sail and they end up flying over the lovely sights of Rio. It’s certainly up there as one of the best animated flight scenes ever. Then they crash land, wah wah.
The three then hitch a ride on a truck to get to Luiz. On the way, they bump into will iam and his pal again. Raf knows them and they say that they missed Luiz who is now somewhere else. Then after more things, they go this club, that actually feels like a club. As in, it’s not half assed and instead it’s pretty “happening” and it’s another example of this film’s high energy level.
I mean that in a good way. I mean, it’s Rio during Carnival, it should be as energetic as possible!
Then Will I am leads us into our 3rd song, at the 53 minute mark. It’s kind of pointless, but it’s pretty cool and hey, we need to justify this celebrity casting somehow! Though it does make me realize that this isn’t a very reviewable movie as you kind of have to SEE it to get the full effect. If only I had enough talent to do a video review.
The song also serves as a chance for Blu and Jewel to bond a bit but like the first, it stops before it really ends. Only Nigel’s song actually ended, while the others just kind of stop. The monkey gang interrupts the bird samba party (Add to the weird sentences I’ve type on here).
A fight ensues and the monkeys get their asses handed to them. That is hands down the most epic Bird/Monkey fight ever put on film. Meanwhile, Fernando takes Tuilo and Linda to the bad guy HQ only to see that the birds are not there. He reveals that he took the birds in the first place and needless to say, Linda is not pleased.
Before that can set in though, the goons show up and Fernando hides the two . The goons plan to smuggle the birds, or some other birds, or whatever, through the Carnival party, but they lie and tell the kid they are simply going to the party. Forgetting Linda and Tuilo for some reason, he asks if he can tag along and they say yes, so they leave.
While that is going on, Blu and thew gang hitch another ride, and Blu takes this chance to try to woo Jewel. Of course, it’s very awkward until their pals start up music to set the mood, but it just leads to more awkward, but funny stuff from Blu.
Of course it is that cliché where the comedy sidekicks secretly give the hero advice on what to say to the girl, and said hero mucks it up but it still ends going well. But this is a funny cliché so I’m cool with it.
After that is over, they finally reach Luiz’ garage. As it turns out, Luiz is a drooling dog, voiced by Tracy Morgan. Right away, he gets the chains off, so that means the movie is over, bye!
Pfft, nah….but the “review” is almost over. Everyone except Blu flies, since Jewel hasn’t been able to truly fly thanks to the chains, in awhile. ANNNNND, here is where we stop, at the 67 minute mark. Yep, this is the part where I gave up. Like I said, at least I’ve actually seen the full movie this time.
Here is what happens in the rest of the movie: There’s a love duet where we find out Anne Hathaway could sing before Les Miz, Nigel is defeated/rendered flightless, I think the human baddies are stopped, Tulio and Linda hook, they adopt Fernando, and our bird hero finally find love and they have babies. Dance party ending!
While I couldn’t finish the plot summary, I can talk about the movie here. This is one of those “decent” flicks, in the vein of Despicable Me, and other such films with a cliché plot but good everything else. This one is a lot of fun, even if it’s not Blue Sky’s best.
The story is nothing new, but it is….serviceable, and it didn’t really annoy me with the cliches. But clearly they didn’t want you to remember the great story, but all the other great things this film has. The story itself is helped by some solid humor, and the fantastic animation. This movie looks beautiful, with all the vibrant colors, and the musical numbers help make it even better. The songs could be a bit more complete, and I’d say the only really memorable one was the villain song, but they are still solid.
The characters are pretty likable, even if they aren’t anything new. Blu provides some of the funniest moments with his awkwardness and while his overall development is cliché, it is well done. The same can be said for Jewel who is an enjoyable tough chick and the two have decent chemistry.
The rest are hit or miss, with the comedy reliefs being average, but I found Linda to be kind of adoptable, and Tulio was….a character that was in this movie. Fernando, while cliched, is one of the more sympathetic characters, so I liked him too.
But the real show stealer is Nigel, who is a solid villain. Yeah, he’s just evil to be evil, but he’s hilarious in how theatrical he is. He gets the best song, and he’s just fun to watch. Overall, Rio works because it’s a lot of fun and you get the sense that it is a real tribute to the director’s home country.
Just like how most Disney films capture the look and feel of their location (Africa in The Lion King, Agrabah in Aladdin, etc etc), this film really captures Rio perfectly, and that’s a big part of it’s charm.
Is it anything ground breaking? Nah, but it is a fun effort and it’s a decent enough family film. Was this another crappy review with no insight at all? Yes, but this is a movie that must be seen, since the look/feel is what makes it decent.
Sorry for the bad review.
How can I make it up to you? Oh I know, I’ll do a somewhat notably bad film next! But not TOO Notable….hmmm…