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'Rio 2' will delight the youngsters, just don't expect much else

Rio 2

Rating:
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After the on the road adventures of a domesticated macaw ended up netting almost $500 million at the box office, it only makes sense that there would be a sequel in the offing. "Rio 2" sees us hitting the road again as Blu, Jewel and the kids hit the road once more heading into the wilds of the amazon to meet the in-laws with some amusing but ultimately underwhelming results.

Rediscovering their routes back in the jungle
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Blu, Jewel and their three kids live the perfect domesticated life in the magical city that is Rio de Janeiro. When Jewel (Anne Hathaway) decides the kids need to learn to live like real birds, she insists the family venture into the Amazon. As Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) tries to fit in with his new neighbors, he worries he may lose Jewel and the kids to the call of the wild.

It's cute and fun with some passable music but much like the original "Rio 2" is just far too slight to remain and sustain and something truly memorable. It just leans far too much on the comforts of a tired and formulaic story that has been told far too many times before.

Coming out of the Blue Sky studios factor, co-writer and director Carlos Saldanha has crafted a story that is wall to wall with eye popping 3D, vibrant colours and fun musical numbers and not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but it is ultimately the kind of animated feature that caters almost a little too much to its target demographic and not to the people actually paying for the ticket. It follows the formula a little too much to be perfectly honest and doesn't provide for any genuine surprise as the main story of Blu and his family discovering their roots slowly merges with a bit of a ham handed environmentalism message and the pretext of a talent show so they can throw in some musical numbers wrapped up in the blanket of most but not all humans stink is pretty boring. It's got some great action sequences and is very well animated as the use of 3D isn't cheap allowing for some depth of field creating an immersive feel, but you are trading technical brilliance for story and it doesn't always work.

Kids 6 and under will undoubtedly get a kick out of it all, as it is at the very least fun to watch but the stories are so thread bare that I could even see older kids dialing out of this one, despite some solid voice work from an entertaining ensemble.

The original ensemble returns with Jesse Eisenberg as the skittish and nervous domesticated Blu, and Anne Hathaway as the adventurous Jewel who lead their brood back into the wild to discover their lost flock and reconnect to their roots. Everyone returns and everyone tags along as Jamie Foxx, will i am, Jemaine Clement, Tracy Morgan and Leslie Mann are all back in their various roles. No one does a bad job, but it is all so kid centric that it is also hard to take anyone seriously either. Kirsten Chenoweth is basically wasted as a devoted and dramatic poisonous toad playing opposite Clement, while Andy Garcia and Miguel Ferrer are cast because they have deep, grizzled voices and I can't honestly tell you why Bruno Mars is here at all. Together it makes for a surprisingly entertaining mix, but it never rises above being anything genuinely memorable.

At the end of the day "Rio 2" gets a mildly passing grade and can be best equated to cinematic junk food. It looks great, and will keep you happy for a short period of time but the older we get the harder it is to ultimately digest, but the little ones will lap it up and really isn't that the most important thing?

3 out of 5 stars.

"Rio 2" is now open at theatres all across the country, please check with your local listings for show times.