Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann
If there's one thing we all know about Rio, it's that it isn't the capital of Brazil. It isn't. No, put your hand down, it isn't. It's Brasilia - that's why all those kids got killed in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. The other thing we all know about Rio is that it's an Angry Birds game, created to advertise the animated kids film. Or maybe the kids film is an advert for the new Angry Birds game. Whichever way round it goes (think chicken and egg - with an angry chicken), the important thing is this: Rio is good. But not as good as Angry Birds.
First up, Blu (Eisenberg) isn't very angry. Instead, he's domesticated, neurotic and can't fly. But the pretty blue macaw is the last male of his species, which is why conservation worker Tulio turns up and begs his owner Linda (Mann) to take Blu to Rio where he's meant to rustle the feathers of female macaw Jewel (Hathaway). But just as Blu tries to get beaky with it, he's whisked away by kidnappers and locked in a cage.
Enter Nigel, an evil cockatoo played by Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords. He's white, ugly and brilliant at terrifying children. Plus he gets a song. And it's a great song, featuring such inspired lyrics as 'I poop on people and blame it on seagulls' and 'Like an abandoned school / I have no principles'. A former showbiz cockatoo with a maniacal cackle, Nigel is flat-out the best thing in the whole film.
Not that he has much competition in the animal kingdom: Will.i.am and Tracy Morgan turn up for no reason, George Lopez is distracting as a veteran street-smart puffin, but Nigel's only real contender is Jesse Eisenberg. The Social Network star's a good fit for the angsty male lead (Mark Zuckerbird?) and gets a few good lines while Anne Hathaway is sassy but underused. They spend the whole film handcuffed together - a sign of the predictably average storyline that Carlos Saldanha has come up with.
A pet (ahem) project for the Ice Age director, Rio is mediocre for much of its middle. The plot mostly involves chase sequences, all of which end up where they started. The chaotic streets look good on screen, but as soon as someone mentions the city's Carnivale celebrations, you know where the climax is going to take place. Fortunately, the whole thing bursts with vibrant colour and sound - it's fun just listening to John Powell go bananas on the bongos in the background - and there's a healthy amount of pick-pocketing monkeys. Plus for fans of 3D there's a solid little hang-gliding sequence halfway through. It's hardly How to Train Your Dragon, but Nigel is as menacing as any fire-breathing monster. When the Conchord is on screen, Rio really takes flight.
With its violent villain and wonderful plumage, Rio is a fair family specimen. If it's an advert for Angry Birds, it's a good one.
What did you think?
- anne hathaway
- carlos saldanha
- george lopez
- ice age
- jesse eisenberg
- leslie mann