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Movie review: Rio 2 fails to take wing

This sequel to the highly successful Rio (2011) tries to fly too high and ends up flailing and floundering. Thankfully, there is music to do the rescue act, say critics.

movie reviews Updated: Apr 14, 2014 17:11 IST

The feisty Jewel and the nerdy Blu are back. They also have their three city slicker kids in tow who are going to the Amazon along with their parents to meet some more rare macaws. Is it worth it to accompany them on this adventure?

Critics say expect too much on this journey -- too much plot, too many issues, too many characters. Writes Betsy Sharkey of LA Times, "Wonderfully animated and well-voiced, Rio 2 is nevertheless too much. Too much plot, too many issues, too many characters. But not too much music. In trying to fly too high, the film does too much flailing and floundering to soar."

Jesse Eisenberg (Blu) and Anne Hathaway (Jewel) are back along with Nico (Jamie Foxx), Pedro (, Rafael (George Lopez) and Luiz (Tracy Morgan). This eclectic animal and human cast has new entrants who add a lot of fun to the film.

"Kristin Chenoweth is the irresistible voice of the poisonous frog and stands as one of the film's best new additions… Thanks to Mars, Roberto's a smooth operator, flirty and funny - and that voice. If there is a Rio 3, sigh, let's at least lobby to have Roberto and Gabi, the lovely Broadway frog, take over," adds Sharkey.

While the cast has its stars, it is the story and direction which fail to hold their own. Tom Russo of Boston Globe says, "The story flows, but not always freely, thanks to its manufactured feel. The filmmakers sometimes do better, surprisingly, by simply repeating themselves… The Rio franchise may well go on, too, but hopefully with a story that really does feel natural next time."

The trouble is the team, led by director Carlos Saldanha, appears to be trying too hard. As Stephenie Merry of The Washington Post writes, "There's the main plot and there's a parallel plot involving an ornithologist named Tulio and his wife, Linda. There's more, too, including an American Idol-like talent tryout, a love triangle between Blu, Jewel and her old pal Roberto (Bruno Mars), and a West Side Story-caliber rivalry between the Spix's macaws and the scarlet macaws that share the rain forest."

Just like the first film, music is the highlight of this film. "The musical numbers reach saturation levels, but the Latin-influenced jamming and singing are absolutely fabulous. Rio 2's music might even save the 3-D animated action-adventure about endangered South American blue macaws from the terrible 2s that affect so many sequels," says Sharkey.

The eye-popping animation and samba-influenced beats seem to have impressed critics across board.

"Rio 2 is curiously devoid of decent comedy, but the song-and-dance routines, which are beautifully choreographed, lead to the movie's biggest laughs, especially when the contestants keep getting eaten by predators. All in all, though, the movie feels at once too busy and too derivative. That's no easy feat, but it's also one sequel-makers probably shouldn't aspire to," concludes Merry.