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Movie Review: Rio

April 15, 2011

Rio – A 20th Century Fox Release

Release Date: April 15th

Rated G

Running time: 96 minutes

Carlos Saldanha (dir.)

Carlos Saldanha (story)

Don Rhymer (screenplay)

John Powell (music)

Jesse Eisenberg as Blu (voice)

Leslie Mann as Linda (voice)

Anne Hathaway as Jewel (voice)

Jamie Foxx as Nico (voice) as Pedro (voice)

Tracy Morgan as Luiz (voice)

George Lopez as Rafael (voice)

Jermanine Clement as Nigel (voice)

Rodrigo Santoro as Tulio (voice)

Jake T. Austin as Fernando (voice)

©20th Century Fox.  All Rights Reserved.

Rafael (George Lopez), Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) in Rio.

Our reviews below:


Rio Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Rio is the latest animated film from Blue Sky Studios and Brazlian-born director Carlos Saldanha, and it’s easily one of the best and most enjoyable movies of the year, so far.  Living in Minnesota with his caring and equally book-focused human companion Linda (Leslie Mann), a nerdy and overly domesticated blue macaw named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) has made the seemingly perfect life for himself.

But their world is turned upside down when they got a knock on the door of their book store from Brazilian researcher Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro).  Blu learns that he may be the last remaining male of his species, and it’s off to Rio de Janero to meet his mate.  No sooner than Blu meets Jewel (Anne Hathaway) – a street smart beauty who wants to be in control of herself, they are kidnapped by smugglers bent on selling the birds for a quick buck.

They must escape the clutches of villainous “angry bird” Nigel (Jemaine Clement), and for the first time in his life, Blu must physically and metaphorically learn how to fly.  Along the way they meet some appealing and equally memorable side characters, including a fun-loving toucan, Rafael (Geaorge Lopez) and the musically-driven duo of Pedro & Nico ( & Jamie Foxx).  Even if you find the nicely told story of Rio familiar, the film soars with a rocking soundtrack and several excellent musical sequences.

The voice acting here is superb, with each actor believably bringing their characters to life.  Eisenberg and Hathaway make for appealing leads, providing the sort of hilarious interplay that we could expect from them in live-action roles.  The all-star supporting cast is equally perfect, including an appearance by Tracy Morgan as an adorably self-conscious bulldog.

The animation by Blue Sky Studios is a beautiful combination of photo-realistic backgrounds and more stylized characters.  The crystal clear 3D provides a nice sense of depth and adds an extra level of excitement to the breathtaking sequences of flight.  A scene featuring the Jesus The Redeemer statue that watches over the city of Rio is a particular highpoint.

This is that rare feel-good film with delightful moments of physical humour mixed in with the touching elements of the endlessly charming story.  The characters are endlessly appealing and the inspirational messages here fly high.  Just like the Carnival festivities that are so much a part of Brazil’s culture, Rio has an infectious energy about it that will leave all but the most jaded audience members smiling as they leave the theatre.


Rio Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

From the trailers, I figured I’d like this one, but just how much I found myself enjoying it pleasantly surprised me.  I found the characters really well written, allowing me to become emotionally invested in the story, which raised it up from just plain fun in my book.

Rio follows the story of Blu (voice of Jessie Eisenberg), the last male of his kind of Blue Macaw, who lives as a companion (or pet) with a woman called Linda (v.o. Leslie Mann) in Minnesota.  When she is contacted by ornithologist Tulio (v.o. Rodrigo Santoro) from Rio de Janeiro, they are persuaded to go to Brazil so Blu can meet Jewel (v.o. Anne Hathaway) the last known female Blue Macaw, and possibly save the species.  Once they get there, Blu and Jewel at first don’t like each other, or rather, Jewel doesn’t understand Blu’s captive ways.  She wants to escape and be free to fly in the jungle, but just on the cusp of her escape, they are both stolen from the aviary by an illegal exotic bird trade ring.

From there it becomes a classic story of two characters who don’t necessarily get along, but chained together on an adventure they get to know, and come to care about each other on the way.  This doesn’t feel contrived, and none of the plot elements forced.  As every little thing leads fluidly to the next, we are content to just believe this world and come along for the ride.  Playing out partially as a musical, Rio is a wonderfully charming and entertaining animated film with great voice work and visuals.  One of the best films of the year so far.


Rio Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Over the years, animated musicals have become classics.  Rio could easily become one of those films.  The song and dance numbers here are really fun, and add to a really good story about finding love in unexpected places.  The story begins about 20 years ago, when Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a blue macaw was smuggled from the Brazillian rainforest along with other birds, to be sold in the exotic pet trade.

The birds end up in Minnesota, where Blu’s crate falls from the transport truck and is discovered by a young girl named Linda (Leslie Mann).  Years pass, and Blu and Linda have now grown up.  The two are inseperable, both enjoying each other’s company at Linda’s Blue Macaw book store.  Until one day when a Brazillian ornithologist, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), comes to her book shop.  It turns out that Blu is the last known male of his species and a female, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), has been discovered.

Linda and Blu head to Tulio’s bird rehabilitation centre in Rio de Janeiro to introduce Blu and Jewel into a breeding program.  But the bird smugglers, with the help of a villainous cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement), steal the birds to resell them.  The plan is to get out of the country before the pre-Lenten Carnival parade blocks the road to the Rio airport.  Blu and Jewel head on an adventure through the lively streets of Rio, to get back to the safety of Linda and Tulio.

Rio is a well rounded film.  Eisenberg captures just the right amount of nerdy charm as Blu, while Hathaway captures the confidence of Jewel perfectly.  Both the bird and human characters are likable and strangely believable.  One thing I liked is that, while the animal characters talk to each other, they never talk to the human characters.

Another thing I appreciated is that Rio does not shy away from showing the darker side of Latin America, namely the abject poverty – including that of children – and how it leads to easy money making such as the smuggling of wildlife into the pet trade.  But Rio also depicts the beauty and rich culture of Rio de Janeiro.  The rainforests and beaches are beautiful, and the musical floats and (G-rated) carnival cosutumes are as colourful as the birds themeselves.

Teens and adults who love this film should also see the documentary Waste Land, another enviromentally-themed film about Rio de Janeiro.  Rio is the perfect movie to bring the entire family to, especially around Earth Day.


Rio Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Right from the opening scene – a brightly coloured musical number with a wide array of rainforest birds, it’s obvious that Rio is going to hit all the right notes.  As the movie progresses and each musical number is more energetic and fun than the last it’s really clear.  Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox and Brazilian-born director Carlos Saldanha have a real winner in Rio.

The story centres around a very special bird named Blu (voiced with perfect bird-nerdiness by Jessie Eisenberg).  The rare blue macaw is the beloved pet of bookstore owner, Linda (Leslie Mann).  Their quiet life together of over twenty years is turned upside down when a Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) arrives in Minnesota and convinces Linda and Blu to visit Brazil so Blu can mate with a blue macaw named Jewel (Anne Hathaway).

Shortly after their arrival in Brazil, Blu and Linda’s lives change forever.  Blu has to face the fact that he doesn’t know how to fly and has no clue how to relate to a bird like Jewel.  When he and Jewel are bird-napped he has to learn to rely on his brains and some new bird friends.

There are so many brightly coloured and amusing birds and other creatures in Rio.  Blu’s new friends, Pedro (, Nico (Jamie Foxx) and Rafael (George Lopez) are hilarious.  Also fun to see are slobbery bull dog Luiz (Tracy Morgan), evil cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and the band of monkey thieves.

The beauty of this family-friendly movie is the wonderful attention to detail and the rich colours that the animators give to Rio.  Two scenes in particular are spectacular.  One is the scene where Jewel and Blu are flying on a hang-glider kite past the famous Jesus statue.  The other is when the carnival parade is in full view.  The 3D works perfectly and the scenes are a real visual treat.

The storyline has enough adventure, humour and heart to make it appropriate for all ages.  The movie nicely captures the richness and lively energy in Rio de Janeiro.  It doesn’t shy away from showing the darker side of poverty that exists in parts of Brazil.

Rio is pure fun with excellent animation, dancing in your seat musical numbers, a superb voice cast and a family friendly story.  Treat the family to a trip to Rio.


Rio Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Rio is a flawless 3D animated film from Blue Sky Studios. Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are the last two blue macaws. Poached as a fledgling, Blu has been a companion to Linda (Leslie Mann) in her Minnesota bookshop. Tullio (Rodrigo Santoro) brings Blu and Linda to Rio de Janeiro to mate with Jewel, but the birds are stolen, leading to a chase through the city including the Carnaval parade. Most of the brilliant cast gives voice to other birds, some supportive (George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Will.i.Am) some mocking (Wanda Sykes, Jane Lynch) and one hostile (Jemaine Clement), plus one drooling bulldog (Tracy Morgan).

Rio manages to appeal to all ages, neither too scary or sophisticated for the youngest viewers nor too cute for the most cynical. Lovingly written and directed by Rio native Carlos Saldanha, Rio is beautiful to watch, particularly in 3D, including spectacular flyovers of the city and irresistible production numbers with dancing birds and Carnaval celebrations. The musical score perfectly complements the visuals, credited to John Powell with lots of help from Will.i.Am and many of the best Brazilian artists.

Already embraced by its people as one of the best tributes to the beauty and culture of the city, Rio is enthusiastically recommended without reservation.


Consensus: With beautiful animation, great characters and a strong soundtrack, Rio flies high and soars.  A true delight for those of all ages, this is easily one of the best and most enjoyable movies of the year, so far. **** (Out of 4)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Brittany davis permalink
    September 28, 2011 10:54 pm

    I love this movie. Thank you, One Movie, Five Views for saying it’s one of the best movies of the year, so far!


    • September 29, 2011 11:03 am

      Glad you also loved Rio – it’s still one of our favourite animated movies of the year.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      -John C.


      • Brittany davis permalink
        October 16, 2011 12:23 pm

        You guys are the best reviewers!


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