Run time: 101 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th April 2014
Box Office USA: $131.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $29.1M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 55
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Producer: Bruce Anderson, John C. Donkin
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg as Blu (voice), Anne Hathaway as Jewel (voice), Leslie Mann as Linda (voice), Jamie Foxx as Nico (voice), Andy García as Eduardo (voice), Bruno Mars as Roberto (voice), Jemaine Clement as Nigel (voice), Rodrigo Santoro as Tulio (voice), Jake T. Austin as Fernando (voice), Amandla Stenberg as Bia (voice), Pierce Gagnon as Tiago (voice), Rita Moreno as Aunt Mimi (voice), Kristin Chenoweth as Gabi (voice), Tracy Morgan as Luiz (voice), http://Will.i.am as Pedro (voice), George Lopez as Rafael (voice), Rachel Crow as Carla (voice), Bebel Gilberto as Eva (voice)
After the snappy, clever 2011 original, this sequel feels rather lazy by comparison: it's still visually colourful and sometimes witty, but the overcrowded story is all over the place, mixing wacky slapstick and corny satire with a political message. And none of this is edgy enough to make it memorable, except perhaps the addition of one new character, a deranged poisonous frog with delusions of romance, voiced by the riotously operatic Kristin Chenoweth.
At the centre again are the rare blue macaws Blu and Jewel (Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway), who now have three feisty kids at their bird sanctuary in Rio de Janeiro. Then their human keepers Tulio and Linda (Rodrigo Santoro and Leslie Mann) spot another blue macaw deep in the Amazon, so Blu and Jewel fly off to investigate with their children and buddies (including Will.i.am and Jamie Foxx). Sure enough, this turns out to be Jewel's long-lost family, overseen by her father (Andy Garcia) and guarded by her heartthrob ex Roberto (Bruno Mars). But there's an evil logger threatening the rainforest, and Blu's old nemesis Nigel the cockatoo (Jemaine Clement) is out for revenge.
After the oddly flat prologue in Rio, the film kicks up a gear when it arrives in the jungle, where the imagery becomes far more dense and colourful, leading to some wonderfully outrageous musical numbers and raucous action sequences. The level of detail is impressive, as is the range of creatures thrown into the story. But the script never quite rises to this level of invention, once again simplistically putting the city-bird Blu in an alien natural environment, with added in-laws and ex-boyfriends. Much more fun is Nigel's interaction with his poison-frog sidekick, even if his subplot never builds any steam.
It's as if the filmmakers decided that keeping things hectic and nutty would make up for any real sense of character or story. Children probably won't mind much, since there's a visual vibrance to the animation and general goofiness all around. And the voice cast really go for broke, adding energy to every scene. But with everything in motion, there's nothing to hold our focus. So even if we end up caring about saving the rainforest, nothing has managed to spark our imagination.