Rio is a brightly-colored, dizzying pinwheel of 3D animation in which nothing much happens. Sounds like summer is here early. Coming from Fox’s Blue Sky Studios (the Ice Age trilogy), Rio is an attempt to beat Disney/Pixar at its artful game. No way. But for those searching for something — anything — to take the family to besides the horrid Hop, Rio is a decent bridge until the sequels to King Fu Panda and Cars rev up the multiplex.
The plot is appropriately featherweight. Jesse Eisenberg, in full retreat from his commanding Social Network persona, voices the role of Blu, a macaw who’s been so domesticated by Linda (Leslie Mann), a Minnesota bookstore owner, that he doesn’t know how to fly. Enter Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), a Brazilian ornithologist, who tells Linda he must take Blu to Rio. Turns out this nerd of a bird is the last male of his species. Tulio wants to mate him with Jewel (Anne Hathaway, outdoing her perkiness at the Oscars). But birdnappers, goaded on by a cocky cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement — love him), intervene. That’s when Blu and Jewel go on the run in Rio, conveniently during Carnival. Cue the action and the music, everything from will.i.am remixes to Sergio Mendes’ samba-infused “Mas Que Nada,” and we’re off.
I have to admit that the 3D bird flight off the Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains past the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer is something to take your breath away. For the rest, Rio is pretty much a standard issue kiddie timekiller.