Fair flying fowls
is a relentlessly predictable but otherwise perfectly okay kids’ flick, writes Donald Clarke
YOU KNOW WHAT this is like already. In the same way that, by 1945 or so, the movie fan had some idea what to expect from a mid-quality western, the contemporary multiplex habitué has a measure of the adequate digital animation. Talking animals? Check. Passable songs? Yes. Unnecessary 3D? You bet. There’s not much to complain about (though I’ll give it a go), but there’s not much to write home about either.
Rio, Fox’s latest entry to the genre concerns the adventures of a rare macaw named Blu. Transported to the cold American midwest as a child, Blu grows up in a nice bookshop (A nice what? Ask your dad, junior) as the companion of a spectacled young lady. One day, a South American ornithologist turns up and explains that, being virtually the last of his species, Blu must be brought back to South America to breed. Jewel, his potential partner, turns out to be sassy and unwilling.
Worse things happen. Evil bird smugglers kidnap the pair and – chained together like Madeleine Carroll and Robert Donat in The 39 Steps – Blu and Jewel are forced to make their way to safety through the harsh jungle. Yes, the filmmakers have seen Finding Nemo.
If you were in a mood to get agitated, you could complain about the film’s superficial take on Rio de Janeiro’s underclass (though director Carlos Saldanha is from that city). One of the subsidiary characters, a youth in a Brazil football top, comes across like a softened, sentimentalised version of a City of God tearaway. The depiction is not exactly offensive, but this is hardly the place to address Brazil’s continuing problems with social inequality.
Everything else will do well enough. Gently anthropomorphised, the avian characters are no more annoying than those in the average US romcom. As you might expect from a parrot with Jesse Eisenberg’s voice, Blu is constantly struggling with his inner nerd. As you might expect from a creature that sounds like Anne Hathaway, Jewel is dogged with a tendency towards perky prolixity.
Will they get together at the end? Oh, you know what to expect. You already know everything you need to know about this so-so family entertainment.