Rio: The Movie

By Emma Berkel

   Beginning in the small and freezing world of Moose Lake, Minnesota, Rio introduces Blu, a pet bird deemed “too domesticated” on account of his failure to fly. Nevertheless Blu himself is more than happy to live out his days flightless and safe with his owner Linda, a quiet young woman who’s the best friend a bird could have.

   However, this simple life is turned upside down when Linda learns that Blu is the last male of his kind. In order to save the species, both pet and owner travel over 5,000 miles to Rio de Janeiro, the tropical Mecca of all things party. In Rio, Blu meets his female counterpart, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and finds that this free-spirited local is also his polar opposite. To further complicate things, the mismatched pair is bird-napped by smugglers, an act which sets off a chain of events that lead Blu to discover new friends as well as the secret to flight, all during the heat of the biggest carnival in the world.

   Directed by Carlos Saldanha, director and co-director of the Ice Age franchise, Rio is the product of many years’ work. The production team visited with birds personally to study their movements and properly render them in the movie’s 3D computer animated format. The effort shows, and that detail extends to the setting as well. The sweeps of Rio de Janeiro are breathtaking, capturing not only the iconic Christ the Redeemer but also the city’s gorgeous bay. In addition to Hathaway, there are a number of familiar voices which star in the main cast, including George Lopez and will.i.am.

   Loaded up on color and music, Rio is definitely a summer movie for the family. Laughs may be had by those of all ages, and in the end, there are heartwarming messages about self-discovery and embracing change. It may be a formula, but it’s a formula that works.