NEW YORK — Despite its urban title, “Rio 2” (Fox), director Carlos Saldanha’s vibrant animated follow-up to his 2011 original, is mostly set in the wilds of the Amazon rainforest. But that turns out to be a good thing since it opens the way for striking images of nature at its most alluring and attendant warnings against ongoing human aggression toward such pristine habitats.
A positive message about marital fidelity further enhances this unobjectionable film.
Opening scenes find Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (voice of Anne Hathaway) – the two rare birds whose romance was charted in the first movie – settled down and pursuing a happy family life in Brazil’s cultural capital. They share their domestic bliss with daughters Carla (voice of Rachel Crow) and Bia (voiced by Amandla Stenberg) as well as son Tiago (voice of Pierce Gagnon).
The feathered clan’s tranquility is interrupted, however, by a piece of startling news: Blu’s kindly former owner Linda (voice of Leslie Mann) and her ornithologist husband Tulio (voice of Rodrigo Santoro), who initially brought Blu and Jewel together so that they could perpetuate their species, have unexpectedly discovered other members of it – i.e., Spix’s macaws – living deep in the Amazon rainforest.
Anxious to make contact with their counterparts, Blu, Jewel and the kids set out for the jungle. There Jewel is joyously reunited with her father Eduardo (voiced by Andy Garcia) and childhood friend Roberto (voice of Bruno Mars). But thoroughly domesticated Blu has problems adjusting to his new surroundings. He’s also intimidated by Eduardo and more than a little jealous of Roberto.
Another challenge for Blu arrives with the reappearance of Nigel (voice of Jemaine Clement), the villainous cockatoo who previously schemed to hand Blu and Jewel over to smugglers. Thwarted in that plan, and humiliated into the bargain, Nigel is out for revenge.
Topflight visuals and amusing send-ups of musical genres ranging from Broadway showstoppers to disco standards enliven the adventures that follow. Along the way, moviegoers are shown the resilience of Blu and Jewel’s marital bond as well as the consequences of treating the environment irresponsibly. As for the bathroom humor that seems to be a requisite feature of all Hollywood fare aimed at children these days, it’s kept to a mild minimum.
In short, “Rio 2” is a big-screen confection calculated to please young and old alike.
The film contains a couple of childish scatological references. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G – general audiences. All ages admitted.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.