When the Rio movie ended, I was left with two kids who loved to shake their tail feathers to the samba and a sinking feeling that Type A Blu and fiercely independent Jewel were going to need some relationship counseling. Now, after a whirlwind weekend in Miami Beach for the Rio 2 premiere, I’m glad to report that the sequel doesn’t smooth over the conflicts of the first movie, as so often happens. Nope; there are kids, marital discord, the world’s toughest in-laws, and a villain who’s badder, balder, and more hilarious than ever.
Not to mention a great message about getting out to explore (and save) the world.
– Okay, yes we have a little celebrity gossip from the Rio 2 premiere, too. Read on… –
Rio 2 starts with Blu and Jewel’s three kids caught between Blu’s domesticated world of pancakes and TV and Jewel’s urging to be wild and self-resilient. When Blu’s owner goes missing in the Amazon, it’s up to Blu to strap on his fanny pack, turn on his GPS, and save her, which is a great excuse for Jewel to introduce their kids to the rainforest where she grew up.
When the Rio crew meets Jewel’s rigidly wild father and an entire flock of undomesticated Blue Macaws, painfully realistic hijinks ensue. Of course, Rafael, Nico, Pedro, and even Luiz find a way to join them in the Amazon, thanks to their desire to cast the greatest Carnivale act ever. And the real fun happens when Jemaine Clement’s evil cockatoo, Nigel, continues his ambition to destroy Blu despite the fact that he can no longer fly and is hampered by a painfully clingy poison-dart frog named Gabi, lushly voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.
(By the way, if you have no idea at all what I’m talking about, go rent the first Rio before you see this one.)
I can safely say the story is cute, and the messages of “get out and explore” and “be yourself” are ones I’m always glad to pass on. AS is director Carlos Saldanha, who admits that he worries about coming to the breakfast table every day to find his kids plugged in to their devices.
It’s also great to see that each of Blu and Jewel’s kids have their own, distinct personalities and are legitimate characters. But what really stands out for me with the film are the animation and the soundtrack. The movie is vibrant, beautiful, and mesmerizing in 3D, with rich music that celebrates the best of Brazil and makes you want to get up and dance–yes, even the adults.
(I samba’d so hard at the premiere that I still have blisters–although, sadly, the Guinness Book of World Records record for Biggest Dance was only for the paid Carnivale dancers and not the booty-shaking bloggers like me.)
We now listen to the soundtrack every single day–nice if you need a break from Frozen around your place–and my entire family’s favorite song is Nigel’s gloriously cover of I Will Survive. Believe me when I say that your kids will be saying, Oh no he di’in’t for weeks.
I will say I have reservations about the new character, Gabi. The tiny frog’s demented love for Nigel the cockatoo verges into stalking and obsession, and if their genders were reversed, there’s no way parents would put up with it. At one point, Gabi drags a bound Nigel away against his will, and the moms in the audience audibly gasped at the implication of what she was going to do to him behind those bushes. Gabi is a great vehicle for Kristen Chenoweth’s voice, but this is a character that I’ve had to discuss with my kids even before they’ve seen the movie with many repetitions of “that’s not okay.”
But overall, I like that the movie Rio 2, much like Rio itself, centers on family, wonder, energy, and exploring the natural world–and passing on that excitement to the next generation through music and adventure. I walked out of the theater immediately wanting to unplug my kids and get them out in the sunshine, albeit away from creepy little frogs with beautiful singing voices.
I can already tell you what my kids would say, though: Not enough Luiz the bulldog dancing in gold underwear. And, spoiler alert: You’ll be glad to know that Clara the Capybara from the trailers is eventually spit back out by a mortified jaguar.
Rio 2 hits theaters nationwide tonight, April 11. Thanks to 20th Century Fox for including CMP on this press junket and covering expenses.My blurry smartphone photo of Anne Hathaway’s back that I will treasure forever.
And okay, so I know you want to hear a bit of celebrity gossip from the premiere party. Well, here you go:
I assure you that Anne Hathaway is just as gracious and stylish as you’ve always dreamed, with spectacular shoes and a skirt that we all had to coo over. (Our editor Liz concurs on all fronts, after having interviewed her for the Les Miserables premiere.) When asked what technology she can’t live without, she surprised me by bringing up her turntable and vintage vinyl. My kind of gal.
Jemaine Clement, the voice of Nigel, explained that although his own childhood travels were mostly boring and in cars, his son is obsessed with animals, and they like to see new creatures on their trips together. He also admits that he enjoys scaring children–although my kids just find Nigel hilarious.
Kristin Chenoweth is positively tiny and glamorous and always smiling, and she told me that the best gift her parents gave her was the encouragement to embrace the things that make her different–and, yes, she means her voice. So yeah, that kind of worked out for her. As for Janelle Monae, she had a great time dancing with all the kids in the audience at the party. Although she doesn’t have kids yet, she does run all her songs by her niece and nephew. Let’s hear it for cool aunts!