“Rio” Takes You On A Brazilian Odyssey
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Sometimes moviegoing blurs into a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and memories. Seeing the remake of “Arthur” reminded me of its Oscar-winning theme song (remember that line: “When you get caught between the moon and New York City”?) … which in turn reminded me of the song’s co-writer Peter Allen, a former hubby of Liza Minnelli … and Peter Allen used to sing a rousing version of “I Go to Rio.”
Free association, as the shrinks call it.
I went to Rio. That is, I caught the 3D animated movie “Rio,” which is now playing at Tropic Cinema.
This delightful odyssey gives us a blue macaw who lives in a bookstore in Moose Lake, Minnesota. Blu (voiced by Social Networker Jesse Eisenberg) is a rare bird, the last male of his species. Alas.
But when a female Spix macaw is spotted in South America, scientists decide to fly Blu down for a meet-and-greet (if you know what I mean).
Jewel (voice by Anne Hathaway) is the object of Blu’s affections, but first he must win her heart. This quest includes overcoming his fear of flying, escaping from game poachers, and surviving in the wild.
The “wild” (of course) is Rio de Janeiro, that party city in Brazil.
Along the way they meet a colorful cast of animated characters – a yellow canary (Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx) who wears a bottle cap as a hat, a red-crested cardinal (Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am), a toucan (comedian George Lopez), and a pudgy bulldog (funnyman Tracy Morgan). You also have a couple of Canadian geese (voiced by sardonic Wanda Sykes and droll Jane Lynch).
Blu and Jewel are being chased by the poachers and their sulphur-crested cockatoo (Jermaine Clement).
A group of thieving marmosets are led by King Mauro (Brian Baumgartner), who wears bracelets on each arm and a man’s gold watch as a belt. Administering to them is Doc Mauro (witty Neil Patrick Harris).
Toss in Blu’s human owner Linda (Leslie Mann), add a bird scientist she admires (Rodrigo Santoro), and stir in a helpful Brazilian teenager (Jake T. Austin) to complete the stew.
Brazilian-born director Carlos Saldanha (he gave us those animated “Ice Age” movies) considers “Rio” his dream project.
While Saldanha grew up in Rio de Janeiro, actor Jamie Foxx carped that he’d never actually been there (although he admits to “exploring websites that feature bevies of barely-clad Brazilian girls”).
Pays to complain: Along with co-stars Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, and Will.i.am, director Carlos Saldanha took Foxx to Rio de Janeiro for the movie’s Brazilian premiere. Apparently enjoying all those girls from Ipanema, Foxx jokingly tweeted that he’s canceling his life and not leaving Brazil.
Anne Hathaway is a bit more demure about it. She told Brazilian reporters she loves the film’s “message that you can learn how to spread your wings and fly.”
She has done that.
My friend Elaine’s son went to the same New Jersey high school as Anne Hathaway. “Anne came over to the house a lot. She was such a nice girl, always in a play. She sang well too.”
Her high-school performance as Winnifred in “Once Upon a Mattress” gained her a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award nomination for Best Performance by a High School Actress.
At 16 she performed with the All-Eastern U.S. High School Honors Chorus at Carnegie Hall. Three days later she was cast in the Fox television series “Get Real,” sending her off on an acting career.
You’ve seen her in “The Princess Diaries,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “Rachel Gets Married” (which won her a Best Actress Oscar nod).
In 2008 Hathaway’s then-boyfriend Raffaello Follieri came under investigation for fraud, accused of misappropriating $50 million earmarked to buy up various Roman Catholic churches – a scandal that came to be known as Vati-Con. Breaking off her relationship with Follieri, she’s now dating actor Adam Shulman, who attended the Brazilian premiere with her.
Anne Hathaway admits she’s nothing like the playing-hard-to-get bird in “Rio.” She says, “For me, I’m a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve, fall in love-at-first-sight and go with it sort of girl. If you’re with someone who enjoys having people play hard to get, maybe that’s the way you’re supposed to do it then. I don’t know.”
So what happens when a domesticated macaw from a small-town in Minnesota meets up with a fiercely independent mate in Rio de Janeiro? Well, feathers fly.
[from Solares Hill]