In the latest whirl of the Children's Movie AutoPilot 3000, the filmmakers behind this animated anthropomorphic slot-filler have made the following decisions. For this week's talking-animal hero, they've selected a blue macaw named Blu (Eisenberg), first seen being kidnapped from his home in the Brazilian jungle and transplanted to wintry Minnesota, where he's raised by bookish Linda (Mann). For the main setting, they've chosen Rio de Janeiro, where the grown, domesticated bird is impelled to go because he's the last male of his kind. To ensure the survival of the species, he must mate with a wild macaw named Jewel (Hathaway)---but she, as they say, is a wingful. For the celebrity vocal talent, they've cast two It leads---both Eisenberg and Hathaway are hot now, right? Jamie Foxx, Will.i.am and George Lopez tag along to play the trio of avian friends who help Blu put on the moves, which is difficult, considering this macaw can't fly. For a villain, they've picked a sadistic cockatoo (Clement) who torments and even eats other birds, and who will probably be too scary for recently hatched audience members.
Innocuous but never inspired, Rio covers much of the same turf as director Carlos Saldanha's Ice Age: The Meltdown, only in warmer climes. The Carnival setting adds a fun samba back-beat, although the songs themselves feel like an afterthought---a way of addressing some demographic not yet covered. Compared to Pixar's Up, a much more organic and heartfelt story about making friends in far-flung places, Rio simply feels rote.
Watch the trailer