Director: Carlos Saldanha
Music: John Powell
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, Wil.i.am, Bruno Mars
Ratings: 3 and 1/2 stars
Mumbai: There’s a scene in Rio 2 where when Blu exclaims, “I’m going to the Amazon,” his friend Pedro, says, “Like the website?” That’s how human and domesticated this family of blue macaws is. If you have seen the prequel, you’d know Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway), the blue macaw couple who live with their owners Linda and Tulio. They now have three children, and in Blu’s words they are not the “birdliest” of birds. They like to eat pancakes for breakfast and listen to their iPods. Sometimes Jewel tries to get that rare Brazilnut to keep their birdly traditions alive. The children roll their eyes while Blu just lets out a sigh. Most importantly, they believe they are the last of their species. This myth is busted when they accidentally chance upon a television report featuring Linda and Tulio’s discovery of a whole tribe of blue macaws in the Amazon. That’s how Blu and his family embark on a dazzling journey to the rainforest in search of their lost tribe. How their lives and temperaments change as they move from the city to the wild, forms the rest of the story.
At its core Rio 2 is a family drama, it talks about love and relationships, adjustments one makes for their better half. It also addresses the ecological dilemma --- to choose between city comforts and the freedom of the jungle. There’s also a revenge subplot, where Blu’s old nemesis, the white, wingless cockatoo Nigel (Jermaine Clement) sets out to kill him and fails in every attempt. Not to mention, the battle between tree-huggers Linda and Tulio and a gang of deforesters trying to encroach macaw habitat. A razor sharp script keeps the narrative engaging, even as the multiple subplots threaten to weigh it down at times.
But there’s never a dull moment, quite literally, thanks to a vivid colour burst with jubilant musical numbers in the backdrop, from rap, to samba to lullabies. It’s almost like a musical on wings. The Amazon version of a Brazillian carnaval and a birds’ take of Harry Potter’s Quidditch are a visual splendour. The laughs keep coming. Kristin Chenoweth is priceless as the pink speckled frog, Gabi, who is madly in love with Nigel. Her Broadway like delivery of a song on unrequited, forbidden love is another highlight of the film. Nigel’s high-browed rendition of Shakespeare might make the bard turn in his grave but they ensure a few guffaws. Bruno Mars makes a mark as new character Roberto, Jewel’s childhood friend who makes Blu jealous. Blu’s scenes with Jewel’s father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) have a Meet The Parents flavour. Blu’s exasperation in being forced to let go of human technology --- his favourite Swiss Army kit and GPS – is endearing and as humans you feel for him.
Long after the end credits have rolled, the colours continue float before your eyes as the samba notes ring in your ears. And just for that, Rio 2 justifies a 3D ticket. Don’t miss this musical on wings.