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Rio 2 Review


OK

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.

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The Nanny Diaries Review


OK
Somewhere between Mary Poppins and Sex and the City lies The Nanny Diaries, an adaptation of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus' sordid, cynical best seller that is able to coast on its working-grrl attitude and a couple of intelligent casting decisions.

It's nice to see Scarlett Johansson outside of Woody Allen's clutches. Here she showcases her rarely exercised knack for self-deprecating physical comedy as Annie Braddock, titular babysitter and recent college graduate who postpones her inevitable plunge into the rat race by accepting a nanny position at the posh Upper East Side residence of snippy Mrs. X (Laura Linney, fabulous in the role).

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What a Girl Wants Review


Grim
Don't be fooled by the title. Despite being named after a Christina Aguilera song, What a Girl Wants is not a movie about a good-girl-turned-trashy-ho. Rather, it's the story of a sweet, all-American girl who generally enjoys her life but can't get past one thing: She's never met her father. As her high school days come to an end, young Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes) decides it's time to meet this mysterious man who managed to woo her mother so many years ago, and so she throws her passport into her backpack and heads off to London.

What ensues is a standard fairy tale: Daphne quickly finds her father, Henry (Colin Firth), but is hindered in her attempt to forge a meaningful relationship thanks to an evil stepmother and debutante stepsister who are only interested in Henry's status and wealth. Fortunately, Daphne's got her American charm on her side and, with the help of her wise grandmother and cute new boyfriend, she's able to win Henry's heart and even manages to get him back together with mom. They all live happily ever after, as we are told at the end.

Continue reading: What a Girl Wants Review

Jenny Bicks

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