Carlos Saldanha is all heart. From the ‘Ice Age’ series, which the Brazilian co-directed, through to his new ‘Rio’ franchise, every movie he makes is stuffed with warmth, charm and simple but effective lessons about family, responsibility and friendship. Sure, they can tip over into sentimentality – there’s a lullaby scene in ‘Rio 2’ that’ll have cynics reaching for sick bags – but there’s no denying the integrity.
‘Rio 2’ finds our avian hero Blue (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) living happily with his wife and chicks in Brazil. But when an entire flock of their rare species, the Spix’s Macaw, is discovered deep in the Amazon, Blue and his brood swoop off to investigate. There are problems here: the middle hour runs perilously close to the story of ‘Meet the Parents’, and a subplot involving a talent show feels a little calculating. But the characterisation is feisty and memorable, the song-and-dance sequences intricate and colourful, and it’ll charm the socks off little people.