Birds of a feather flock together in lighthearted ‘Rio 2’

MOVIE REVIEW

Rio 2

Running time: 101 minutes. Rated G (nothing objectionable). At the 84th Street, the Empire, the Magic Johnson, others

“Rio 2” is not what I would call Amazon prime, but it’s got enough silly songs and daffy critters to keep the little ones happy.

Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a rare blue macaw from Minnesota, reckons, “I’m not the birdliest bird in the flock.” Yeah, we figured. He wears a fanny pack. Also he needs a GPS to find his way from his urban home in Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon rain forest, where he and his mate Jewel (Anne Hathaway) decide to visit their old human pals, naturalists who have discovered more members of the exotic species.

Anne Hathaway voices Jewel (left) and Bruno Mars voices Roberto (right).Photo: Blue Sky Studios

“Rio 2,” a sequel to the hugely successful 2011 animated feature, piles up the conflicts without making any of them especially scary (or interesting). There’s a pompous cockatoo, Nigel (Jemaine Clement) who is bent on revenge after his plot to kidnap Blu failed in the first film; evil loggers who want to clear-cut the refuge of the blue macaws, ruffled feathers between Blu and a new character, Jewel’s disapproving dad (Andy Garcia); and, in a development that seems to have come straight from the marketing department, a soccer game in which Blu finds himself playing a star role. (Brazil is hosting the World Cup this year, and the film is already playing there.) Still, I had to smile when a referee pulls out a canary to use as a yellow card.

Gabi, a poisonous frog, is voiced by Kristen Chenoweth.Photo: Blue Sky Studios

The movie isn’t in any particular hurry to get where it’s going, which is fine because Blu and Jewel are likable enough, even if they’re upstaged by the nutty romance between the stuffed shirt thespian Nigel and a poison tree frog (Kristin Chenoweth) who can’t touch him lest she kill him. Her love song to him is one of the highlights of the film, whose dazzling colors and lushly imagined scenery give it a chirpy energy.

Much of the film’s DNA is shared with the “Ice Age” franchise: Director Carlos Saldanha directed or co-directed three of those films, which, like this one, is a product of the Blue Sky animation studio. Pixar’s storytellers don’t need to fear anything from the folks at Blue Sky: The loggers, for instance, are such vaguely-defined background figures that they never feel like a serious threat, and the disapproving father-in-law gag is straight out of a 1960s sitcom. The movie is ever ready to drop everything for some cute slapstick or light goofing around with Blu’s friends. Like the city it’s named after, though, “Rio 2” proudly stands for music, colors and partying. Unlike the city, though, at least the movie won’t leave you with a hangover, a sunburn or a missing wallet.

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