The sideshows steal the act in Rio 2

Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Screenplay by: Don Rhymer, Carlos Saldanha
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx, Andy Garcia, Leslie Mann, Jemaine Clement, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Amandla Stenberg, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruno Mars.

There are film sequels and then there are film sequels. There are movies that are part of a continuity – inevitable chapters that rightfully exist; there are movies that exist because film-making is a profitable business, and exploiting the lowest common denominator will surely bring home the money shot, including milking a story that’s already been bought and sold. It’s contemptible, indeed; it’s a tragic hollywood affair. Rio 2 is certainly far from that. After all, we’re only at round 2, while Rocky knocked out at 8. The lack of originality is forgivable, but it’s brazen borrowing of cliche is almost disappointing.

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The story itself is lackluster. It was Adam Sandler’s Meet The Parents meets Disney’s Tarzan, only it’s in 3D and Elton John wasn’t singing. Rio 2 got a bird version of Bruno Mars instead, starring as blue macaw Jewel’s (played by Anne Hathaway) childhood friend. Apparently, Jewel and Blu’s (Jesse Eisenberg) brood of birds aren’t the only remaining blue macaws on the planet, and they embarked on a mission to find the rest of the flock. For a movie named Rio, it barely takes place in the lovely city. It’s in the confines of the Amazon that Blu and the gang find Jewel’s father, (Andy Garcia, but could totally be Robert De Niro). Actually, everything looks familiar, if only because we’ve watched this storyline before and because watching animals act like humans gets tiring after a while. Well, not really. How heartless can I be? But when Blu’s greatest struggle is to give up his fanny pack, breath mints and toothbrush in exchange for living with his family, eyes may start rolling skywards.

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The 3D was awesome, as expected. Rio 2 offers so much prettiness in this respect, but could have done better, given the circumstances. And for a musical, the movie peaked with Kristin Chenoweth’s love struck frog singing about unrequited love for a flightless cockatoo, which is all sorts of wrong. The side shows stole the act, in fact, as the sub plots were a welcome distraction from the absurd main plot. There’s avenging Nigel (Jemaine Clement) who struggles to be recognized in his art, there’s a singing frog, and there are turtles doing capoeira. These were supposed to be the frosting on top, but when the main course is lacking, you take what you get.

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Could we have done without this movie? Maybe. But that’s the thing with sequels: the expectations are low, you leave the theaters laughing about turtles doing a high five, the producers are happy, and you’re nonethewiser.

-A

MNL Film Club Score: 3.0

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