Music drives animated 'Rio 2'

ASSOCIATED PRESS Gabi the tree frog, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Gabi the tree frog, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.
Posted: April 11, 2014

THE LAST OF his kind leads his family on a perilous voyage, with a distinct environmental message - "Rio 2" is "Noah" with funkier music.

Bruno Mars contributes a song, as does Janelle Monae, but I was partial to Kristin Chenoweth singing "Poisonous Love" - a ballad that a tree frog sings to her would-be cockatoo boyfriend.

The soundtrack and the songs are supervised by Sergio Mendes, who, working with director Carlos Saldanha, has shaped the sequel as a full-on musical, perhaps to capture some of that music/movie "Frozen" synergy.

Early moments in "Rio 2" serve to remind us of what we've forgotten about the not entirely memorable original - Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is the rare tropical macaw taken by ornithologists from his Minnesota birdcage to Brazil to meet Jewel, the last remaining female of his species (Anne Hathaway).

"Rio 2" reveals the meeting to have been fruitful. The birds now have three children, and when rumors surface that more of their kind have been spotted near illegal logging operations in the Amazon rain forest, city bird Blu follows his family into the jungle, where he must deal with his fear of the wild world, and where all forest creatures must unite to combat the encroaching humans.

The "Rio" movies seem to me a little too conventional in terms of story and especially in terms of character - never have animated movies had such a serious dearth of funny sidekicks.

What the movies do offer is superior technical achievement (some of the best 3-D animation you'll see) and a brilliant color palette unlike anything else in the field. Director Saldanha's rain forest is an "Avatar"-ish amazement of vivid tropical hues.

I don't know that I laughed as often as I should have, but I left the movie with the overwhelming desire for something tropical and colorful, with rum in it.


Blog: philly.com/KeepItReel

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