Rio 2 Review: Amazon-ly Bad
Okay, okay, okay. Let’s do this.
Rio 2 is the sequel to blughghghghghghghJemaineClementwasprettygoodIguessblughghghgh, which wasn’t all that good to begin with. It wasn’t quite as inane or contemptible as Turbo or Free Birds but its story still hinged entirely on getting two birds to fuck while fleeing for their very lives from a cannibal. Oh, and they were in bondage the whole time. That must have been a weird pitch meeting.
But the pitch meeting for Rio 2 must have been pretty straightforward. “The first one made money, so let’s slap something together quick.” And slap they did, coming up with a story that’s one part Avatar, one part National Lampoon's Amazon Vacation and fifty-seven parts shameless padding.
Blue (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are living in sin at a wildlife preserve with their three troublemaking children, the kind of hyperactive brats who would have fought off home invaders back in the early 1990s, when the attempted murder of children was temporarily considered hilarious. But I digress. In my defense, so does Rio 2.
Anyway, their human benefactors Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) find evidence of more endangered Blue Macaws in the Amazon rainforest which Blue and Jewel happen to see on TV and dear god in heaven is this forced, but anyway they take their kids and for no good reason all the supporting cast members from Rio 1 on a road trip to find Jewel’s father but Blue is too domesticated to fit in and Bruno Mars plays a cooler Blue Macaw with designs on Jewel but Blue can't peel a Brazil nut and he's way too attached to his fanny pack and he accidentally starts a war and I really want to stop writing this sentence but it just goes on and on even though there’s only enough plot to fill a 22-minute episode of a TV cartoon series.
The gist of it is this: Rio was all about a domesticated bird who was forced into the real world and found himself in the process. Rio 2 is all about a domesticated bird who is forced into the real world again and then forced to change in order to please his common-law wife. After Blue struggles to fit in with his people in their native habitat, repeatedly victimized by passive-aggressive condescension from his quasi-father-in-law and a pervasive, institutionalized disrespect for his adopted human culture, he tells Jewel that he hates it in the jungle. So she tearfully begs him to stop thinking about himself all the time, even though literally every decision he's made throughout the movie was an act of self-sacrifice to make her happy. So he changes for her even more, even though she hasn’t stuck up for him once or even willingly made a single concession to his own personal needs, and then the movie ends "happily."
Yes, there’s lip service paid to the idea that xenophobia is bad, but the important thing is that Jewel never apologizes for taking advantage of Blue's affections or for ignoring his plight, so that’s the moral: you should change who you are, because then maybe your significant other will cut you some slack. Not that every single movie needs to be progressive but Jesus, does anyone think that’s healthy?
There’s more going on in Rio 2 but none of it matter. It's all just a distraction. The cannibal cockatiel Nigel (Jemaine Clement) is back for revenge with a poisonous frog named Gabi (Kristen Chenoweth) who’s in love with him even though they can never touch, but he gets distracted when Blue’s sidekicks cast him in a show that they’re producing for no reason. There’s a corrupt lumber magnate (Miguel Ferrer) who threatens the Blue Macaws’ habitat so the film can end with a violent action sequence. There’s a clan of red parrots who play soccer and who are going to starve the Blue Macaws to death, a subplot that never gets resolved by the way, so I guess the heroes are all going to die of starvation before Rio 3 can come out. Thank goodness.
Once I am again confronted with an animated film whose existence is entirely predicated on the insulting theory that kids will watch anything. And again I am forced to point out that if kids will watch anything, then they will also watch something good. Don’t take your kids to see Rio 2. They may complain but they’ll see it eventually. It’ll be on cable or their teacher will be hung over and put on a video someday. Don’t pay for this. Don’t encourage this. Don’t be a doormat, especially for lazy-ass franchises.