You never know what you’re going to get with sequels. Occasionally they’re good (and sometimes even better than the original), but most times you leave the theatre mumbling “the first one was better.” So how does Rio 2 hold up?
Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are happily living in Rio de Janeiro in a bird reserve, especially now that three rambunctious little ones have joined the family. But when Jewel finds out that Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), their owners, have discovered a colony of blue macaws in the Amazon, Jewel packs up her family and takes them on a 2,000 mile journey to the heart of the rainforest to discover their roots. Once they arrive, Jewel reunites with her father Eduardo (Andy García) and the rest of her long-lost family. But things aren’t all smooth sailing for the Blu: Eduardo hates him, Jewel’s childhood friend Roberto (Bruno Mars) seems to be overstepping his boundaries and the evil ****atoo Nigel returns to see his revenge.
I absolutely loved that the majority of the movie was set in the Amazon rainforest. It is a unique part of Brazil, that played in perfectly with the first film. We were able to explore a new world, while still building on Blu and Jewel’s story. I especially loved Blu and Eduardo’s dynamic, as it was tense and equally hilarious at times. He also has a hard time feeling confident when compared to the flock’s defender Roberto. You really feel for Blu because, as a domesticated “pet”, he really is a fish out of water with all these wild birds.
In Rio 2, there is quite a bit going on as there are four different story lines. Switching back and forth between these disrupts the movie’s flow, especially when we go to Pedro and Nico, the two little bird’s from the first film. In this movie, they follow the blue macaws to the Amazon so they can find inspiration for a world-class carnival show that they want to put on. This storyline was the weakest of all and was really unnecessary, in my opinion. It would have been better to just let those characters stay in the first movie and give more screen time to newer characters like Gabi, Aunt Mimi and Roberto, to name a few.
Speaking of Gabi the frog, she was an absolute delight and it’s a shame we don’t see more of her. I must admit that I am a Kristin Chenoweth fan, so seeing her play such a lovestruck, exuberant character was a lot of fun. And you can’t have Cheno in a movie without having her belt out a tune. And boy does she deliver. The songs that Gabi sings in the movie are ridiculously over the top and fun.
The first movie had a lot of music, so I don’t know why I was so surprised to see that Rio 2 was just as jam packed with songs. The Brazilian-inspired songs were the best of the bunch, lively and filled with unique beats and chanting. The Broadway numbers by Gabi were also a treat. Then there were the pop songs, which were a letdown. I felt that they distracted from the movie and took us out of the Brazilian world that the filmmakers had spent so much time crafting and immersing us in. The pop songs were part of Pedro and Nico’s section of the film, so again, if that whole plot line was cut, I think the movie would have been better as a result.
Rio 2 is a colorful, loud and fun extension of the original Rio film. The characters, stories, and scenery are well crafted and beautifully executed. At times, there is too much going on, as a lot of characters are vying for screen time, but overall the film is enjoyable.