‘Rio 2’ has catchy songs but fails to take flight, reviews say
Does the “2" in “Rio 2" stand for “2 Much”? Not officially, but you might think so judging from reviews of the new animated musical, which finds Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway’s blue macaws headed from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon rain forest.
Film critics say the movie is eye-catching and sounds good, but the story is overly familiar and overstuffed.
The Times’ Betsy Sharkey writes, “Wonderfully animated and well-voiced, ‘Rio 2' is nevertheless too much. Too much plot, too many issues, too many characters. But not too much music.” The song numbers “reach saturation levels,” but that’s a good thing, since “the Latin-influenced jamming and singing are absolutely fabulous,” with vocal talents Bruno Mars and Kristin Chenoweth standing out.
Ultimately, though, “In trying to fly too high, ‘Rio 2' does too much flailing and floundering to soar. At least the music never misses a beat.”
The New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis says, “the cinematic equivalent of attack by kaleidoscope, ‘Rio 2' sucks you in and whirls you around before spitting you out, exhausted.” As directed by Carlos Saldanha, who also helmed the first movie, the sequel “ups the ante on sound and movement but pays scant attention to story. Prioritizing a sellable soundtrack — and a veiled plug for this year’s World Cup soccer tournament — over an original and engaging narrative might not have been the intent, but it sure feels that way.”
In the Boston Globe, Tom Russo writes that while the original film “bore the personal stamp of its director,” the sequel “feels less personal, and more like a case of Saldanha’s team working hard — too hard — to concoct a tropical blend with an equally pleasing kick.” Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle had a similar take, writing, “‘Rio 2' is saved from sub-mediocrity by its positive vibe and some notably sharp and soaring visuals. The musical interludes, in particular, provide a lot of the momentum that the narrative otherwise lacks.” But about that story, he says, “It’s hard to care, because the four screenwriters credited choose one-liners and funny moments over a cohesive narrative.”
The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips finds the film unimaginative. He says, “‘Rio 2' offers roughly the same approach to story and to story clutter as did the first movie. A little conflict, followed by domestic strife and reasons for Blu [Eisenberg] to panic, followed by something flying in your face (3-D, you know), followed by another ensemble samba number.” But, he adds, “Millions of kids and, I’m guessing, a few parents will like it well enough.”
Among the more positive “Rio 2" reviews is that of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Bill Zwecker, who calls it a “delightful animated romp. It’s as good as the first one and sure to please both the kiddies and adults with its two-tiered humor.”
He adds, “While certainly no ‘Frozen’ or ‘The Lego Movie’ or even ‘The Croods,’ ‘Rio 2' is well worth a weekend trip to the multiplex for the entire family.”
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