"Oh, how wish I was back in my cage, with my mirror, and my little bell"
Jesse Eisenberg should be forever grateful that the Oscar-nominated "The Social Network" was released before Rio. That's because his voice as Blu, the macaw, is so distinctive and perfect, that in my mind he will always be Blu. And if Rio had been released months ago, audiences worldwide would think that Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, missed his cage, mirror and little bell.
Now, for the movie itself
Location, location, location. Because what's Rio, the movie, without (pulsating, colorful, exuberant, romantic) Rio, the city? The story is delightful, though predictable. The characters are cardboard, even if 3D and feathery. But "predictable" and "cardboard" are the worst adjectives I could possibly link to Rio. The Rio deal, is that I laughed all the way through it, like everybody else in the theater.
Blu, the last male of his kind, is the happiest macaw, out there in a snowy town with Linda, his nerdy owner. Jewel, the last female of her kind, lives in Brazil, and is the saddest macaw, imprisoned in a cage and fighting for her freedom. She's a free-spirited soul, with the world at her feet. Blu has lived a sheltered life, can't fly, and loves every minute of it. What happens when they meet? Anyone above the age of 7 can guess how it ends (age 5 if he's seen the trailer). But there's so much delight from the first minute to the last, that you don't want it to end.
I was one of the lucky few to watch the premiere of Rio in Rio, and at this point I can hardly wait to see it again. A Brazilian, Carlos Saldanha, directed the movie, and it shows. The details of the city are all there, but so is the big picture (you know, everything that really matters, along with wide panoramas of Rio by night, of a crowded beach, of a sunset in the cable cars of Santa Teresa).
Lots of AMAZING aerial views in the action scenes. The main characters are birds, thus flying should be expected. Many of those places showed in the movie can be visited by tourists.
Rio doesn't have the depth of stories such as Toy Story or Up. It is a simpler plot. It is, however, pure fun from start to finish, and visually stunning. Location, location, location. As a native of Rio, I could recognize most places, and was stunned with how realistic were the slums, and how the geography of the city, especially the mountains, could be so painstakingly reproduced.
The movie is not a musical, but it comes close to it. There's funk, bossa nova, a few clichés of Brazilian music and even samba sang in English (still conflicted about it!).
There is also the portrayal of animal trafficking, a centuries-old problem in Brazil, and the subplot of a boy who lives on the streets and must resort to petty crime, which adds up to a much-needed social commentary.
By all means, don't miss this movie!
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