Film review: Rio 2 (U)

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Intoxicating samba rhythms and the exuberance of Brazilian carnival get toes tapping in Carlos Saldanha’s assured and undemanding sequel, which transports the feathered protagonists away from Rio de Janeiro for a rollicking rumble in the Amazonian jungle.

As with the original film, Rio 2 promotes a serious ecological message: the wanton destruction of the rainforest and its impact on native wildlife.

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This cri de coeur is woven by Saldanha and co-writer Don Rhymer into a familiar yarn about love overcoming adversity, a story that sees one neurotic city bird stripped of his home comforts and fluttering back to nature in order to please his family.

Little ones will gurgle with glee at the slapstick including a hungry anteater called Charlie, whose lasso-like tongue is always on the prowl for tasty snacks.

Adults meanwhile can savour the dry humour of musical interludes including a ballad between a toxic tree frog and a cockatoo entitled Poisonous Love which includes the delightful boast, “If you play ping pong, I’ll play ping ponger”.

Neurotic blue macaw Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are at the centre of the action once again.

The birds have settled with owners Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) in Rio and have three children, Carla (Rachel Crow), Bia (Amandla Stenberg) and Tiago (Pierce Gagnon).

Jewel fears the brood is too domesticated so when Tulio and Linda uncover evidence of thriving blue macaws in the Amazon, the mother insists her family answers the call of the wild.

There, he city birds are reunited with Jewel’s long-lost father Eduardo (Andy Garcia) and her tuneful childhood pal, Roberto (Bruno Mars).

Jewel is thrilled but Blu struggles to acclimatize to his new surroundings.

Rio 2 is a predictable fish-out-of-water adventure that forces Blu to ditch his sat nav and lead the flock in a battle against illegal loggers, who are tearing down the jungle.

The enduring love between the hero and his passionate wife invariably trumps mankind’s voracious greed. Comic relief from Clement, Chenoweth and the supporting cast is gentle and inoffensive and the soundtrack shimmies to upbeat numbers from Hathaway, Mars and an infectious opening refrain from Janelle Monae entitled “What Is Love?”.

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