Rio 2 has neither the wit of The Lego Movie, nor the classic appeal of Frozen, yet it’s a perfectly enjoyable sequel, bright and beautiful to look at, and set to a clutch of terrific tunes.
Like its 2011 predecessor, it’s a charming and cheerful film that really doesn’t aspire for much more. It’s only been a few years since the first film left off, and Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) appears nicely settled into domestic life with fellow macaw Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their three baby birds.
On learning that they’re not the sole survivors of their race, Jewel insists that the family travel to the Amazon rainforest to find the rest of their kind.
City-bred Blu makes the trip reluctantly and, in a plotline borrowed straight from the Meet The Parents movies, finds himself struggling to impress Jewel’s disapproving dad (Andy Garcia).
There’s more trouble in the form of revenge-seeking cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement), who’s been plotting to get back at Blu for escaping from his clutches in the previous film.
Director Carlos Saldanha keeps things light and breezy, stuffing the film with the kind of warmth and vibrancy that kids will find hard to resist.
The animation itself is gorgeous, although there are way too many subplots set against the main story. An American Idol-like talent show for the next musical superstar feels contrived, while an eco-friendly message against deforestation in a plotline involving encroachers feels gratuitous at best.
These are minor quibbles however in a film that’s disarmingly fun. It’s hard not to cheer as Nigel breaks into a hilarious hip-hop version of I Will Survive, or his sidekick, a poisonous frog named Gabi (an excellent Kristin Chenoweth) spends her every waking moment pining for him.
And once again, Jesse Eisenberg‘s delightfully nerdish voice-performance does full justice to Blu’s sheer anxiousness. Predictable yet undeniably entertaining, Rio 2 is not a bad way at all to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’m going with three out of five.