From the moment I saw the first teaser for Rio, I was beyond excited for this movie. A full-length animated film not only starring birds, but parrots! Everything about Rio, from the super cute merchandise to the Angry Birds tie-in was a bird lover? dream come true.
Aesthetically, Rio had it all. The designs of the birds were not only true to their real-life counterparts, but were also extremely appealing, even if the parrots lacked the characteristic zygodactyl feet. But does the content of the movie live up to its pleasing looks? For the most part, yes!
The movie begins in Brazil with a colorful opening musical number that? both fun and very catchy. Music is one of the film? strongest elements, even if every track isn? exactly a home run. The fun is spoiled by a serious subject that is also the film? big bad: bird smugglers. Among the birds taken from the wild is a rare baby Spix? macaw.
The little macaw, Blu, eventually winds up in Minnesota with a girl named Linda. The two grow up together and eventually run a bookstore. Their quiet life is interrupted by an ornithologist who insists that they go to Rio to save the Spix’s macaw species, as Blu and a female named Jewel are the last of their kind.
In Rio, the meeting between Blu and Jewel does not go as planned, as the birds are caught by smugglers. They escape, but Blu is not only far from Linda, he is chained to Jewel. From there, the plot revolves around the different struggles of everyone involved: Blu wants to get back to Linda, Jewel wants to be free, and both want to be unchained. Meanwhile, the smugglers still want the two rare birds, and Linda and Tulio, the ornithologist, search for the stolen birds.
As a whole, Rio is a delightful movie. I feel it fills a certain hole that was missing for bird lovers. While movies for cat and dog people are rather plentiful, movies focusing on parrots can be as rare as Blu and Jewel themselves. There are a few narrative hiccups, like unneeded characters and scenes, (in particular the singing birds voiced by will.i.am. and Jamie Foxx feel superfluous) but Rio is still a charming film.
I also find it interesting that Rio tackles a subject like illegal bird smuggling. Today, bird smuggling for the pet trade is still an ongoing problem. Many of these captured birds die before reaching their destination due to the cruel ways they are hidden during transport. It? also resulted in the wild population decline of many parrot species. To illuminate this problem in terms that children can understand is a brave thing for a movie to do.
What My Bird Thought
My cockatiel, Pepper, spent most of Rio contentedly preening on my shoulder. He? look up at certain squawks or noises, but Rio might be too busy of a movie for a 20-year-old cockatiel. I like to think that the cockatoo in the film, Nigel, was his favorite character if only because they are in the same scientific family, Cacatuidae. But even if Pepper isn? excited for Rio, I will tell you that it? definitely a movie parrot lovers need to see!
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