Movie Review: RIO

RIO is the newest animated 3D children’s film to hit the big screen, brought to audiences by 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios, the makers of Robots, Horton Hears a Who, and the popular Ice Age.

Rio-movieThe story follows Blu, a rare blue macaw who is taken by smugglers from his cozy nest in a forest near Rio de Janero and somehow abandoned in Moose Lake, Minnesota, where he is discovered by the sweet bookworm Linda. The two grow up as best friends, Blu learning all sorts of clever human tricks, while never in fact learning to fly.

Linda and Blu are visited one day by Tulio, an even bigger bird fanatic than Linda, who explains that Blu must come back to Rio to mate with female blue macaw Jewel in order to save their species. The three travel to Rio, and thus the adventure begins.

RIO movie kids first approvalLately I’ve been disenchanted with the way kid’s movies seem to always go for the potty jokes. Such base attempts at humor, coupled with innuendo often inappropriate for kids, has made me leery of many new movies for children and family.

But I am SO happy to say, RIO keeps it clean and rightfully earns its G-rating, while still managing to be a great deal of fun. Which is probably why it received a Seal of Approval from Kids First, a coalition for quality children’s media.

Some highlights for me:

  • The animation was fantastic! While “homey” during the scenes in Minnesota, it was alternately bright, colorful, and vibrant during the scenes in Rio.
  • I actually loved that it was in Real 3D. And that comes from someone who has been “over” the whole 3D craze for a while now. But instead of using the Real 3D to make odd, irrelevant objects pop out into the audience, filmmakers used the Real 3D to add depth to the already beautiful animation, creating what I felt was a visual feast.
  • The voice casting was excellent. Leslie Mann as the clever, quirky Linda brought a lot of personality to the character. Jessie Eisenberg makes Blu a somewhat nerdy, OCD, yet quite sweet character. And I enjoyed Anne Hathaway as the bold, resourceful Jewel.
  • The music was fun, fun, fun. Oh, so fun! The credit for this must go to Will.i.am and Jamie Foxx, who voice the hilarious characters of Pedro and Nico and provide some of the most memorable musical numbers.
  • Speaking of hilarious…this movie is funny, and the right kind of funny. Funny for being smart, using good actors, and timing the story just right (and not going for the simplest, gross-factor kind of funny).
  • It’s like a virtual vacation to Rio! Honestly, I felt like I was there. Which makes sense now that I know director Carlos Saldanha was born and raised in Rio. His love for his hometown absolutely comes through in this film.
  • As an Angry Birds fan, I loved the tie-in with the film. Not only do some of the birds in the movie look like the birds in the game, but there’s even an Angry Birds Rio version of the popular app available for download!

Finally, what impressed me the most about the film was its heart. This is a sweet, charming film, and I loved it.

To learn more, watch the first 2 minutes of the movie, or visit the official webpage or Facebook fan page.

*Disclosure: My family and I were provided passes for an advanced screening of RIO. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are honest and my own, and actually needed to be toned down a little for this post (I am THAT enthusiastic about this movie!).

*original post included a giveaway for a $25 Fandango Gift Card and RIO-themed coloring books

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