Rio (2011)

Rio-2011It would seem only fitting that Jessie Eisenberg would play one of the most neurotic yet charming characters of the year, as “Rio” is exactly up his alley as a character mold he’s most accustomed to playing. Insecure and neurotic, Blu is a winged Woody Allen and Eisenberg is up for the challenge in what is basically another on the run animal romp that we saw last year with “Toy Story 3.” It won’t garner points in originality or depth, but for what it offers, it’s a cute and promising environmentally conscious romance comedy about Blu and his owner Linda, two love lorn and socially awkward individuals who found one another one fateful day after Blu was snatched from his home.

Before Blu could embrace his life and learn to fly, he was snatched and left abandoned for a little girl to find. This girl became Linda, Blu’s significant other who is perfect for him socially were it not for their interspecies mingling. “Rio” doesn’t take much of an effort to get in to as it’s primarily based around social and environmental commentary. The villains are evil poachers, the good guys are inept but well meaning saviors, and the entire film is just a commentary about the sanctity and gentle nature of exotic birds and how we should be good to them, Mmkay.

The rest of the film involves Linda falling for the bird lover/trainer who wants to breed Blue and make more Makaw, while Blue gets in touch with his wild animal living among other birds (including a female Makaw named Jewel he’s supposed to mate with) and planning an escape that’s impossible but funny. The problem with “Rio” is not so much that it’s basically another escape film a la “Toy Story 3” but that it can never be sure what kind of animated film it wants to be. Is it a romance, an escape film, a coming of age film, or a musical?

I’d really like to know about that last one by the way since there is about two musical numbers that explain everything and offer no value to the pacing. Eisenberg is the highlight because he seems comfortable in the animated realm as a character that’s so insecure and uncomfortable in his surroundings but allows enough faith that he’ll overcome the odds, and Eisenberg’s shaky voiced warbling makes for some chuckle inducing entertainment. “Rio” is a charming and understated little environmentally conscious film that doesn’t try too hard to entertain us and instead relies on its wiles and quirks to get to the finish line and for that it deserves a chance from fans of animal epics.