rioRio is a clever story about the survival of a species. 

DVD  Release

Voices of: Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Anne Hathaway, Rodrigo Santoro, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Tracy Morgan, Jake T. Austin and will i. am
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Scriptwriters: Don Rhymer, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Todd R. Jones, Joshua Sternin and Earl Richey Jones from a story by Carlos Saldanha
Composer: John Powell
Animation: Blue Sky Studios
Rating: G
Running Length: 98 minutes for the film

Rio is a clever story about the survival of a species.  In this case, it is a Spix Macaw bird where one bird lives in Minnesota and the other bird in Rio. Precise animation makes the birds seem alive and the music is pretty good, too. What caught my attention at the beginning of the film was the location of the home of Blu, the Spix Macaw. It is Moose Lake, Minn., an unusual choice, as Moose Lake once had a state mental health facility. You do get a view of a Minnesota winter and what happens behind the doors of a book store as customers go and come. Voices are just right for the characters including Jesse Eisenberg as Blu, Leslie Mann as Blu’s owner, Linda, Anne Hathaway as Jewel the female Spix Macaw in Rio, and Rodrigo Santoro as Tulio, a Brazilian ornithologist. The film is geared more for adults as far as the storyline and a few scary moments for a "G" rating, but kids will enjoy the variety of birds, animals and the Carnival.
The story progresses from Blu as a hatchling in a jungle to being trapped by bird thieves to a new life in Minnesota when he falls off the back of a truck and is discovered by Linda.  Life is good there, with Blu helping in Linda’s bookstore, despite heckling's by Canadian geese outside the front window. Enter, the Brazilian scientist who wants to mate Blu with Jewel to perpetuate the species, except Blu has to come to Rio. This paves the way for more bird thieves, a Carnival, Linda driving a motorcycle, Jewel and Blue not liking each other, and the introduction of a host of characters from a bulldog (voice of Tracy Morgan) to a Toco Toucan (voice of George Lopez) who tries to teach Blu to fly to the crook’s assistant, Nigel (voice of Jemaine Clement), a mean-spirited Cockatoo. You thought a trip to Rio would be all vacation time? Think again, if you are a Spix Macaw.
The twists and turns of the story make it interesting but perhaps a bit much for small children to follow. Also, there are scary moments when the birds are captured by bird thieves and in stacked cages against a wall. You will learn how thieves work,  about the plight of endangered species and that it is all about profit and not compassion. There are several narrow escapes, close calls and the Carnival scene with Linda atop a float is spectacular.
Friends come to the rescue, love is in the background and crooks aren't as clever as they like to think they are, including bird crooks who turn against their own kind. My favorite part of the film was the beginning, where Blu and Linda live and work together. He even brushes his beak, gargles, and is with Linda in every picture from her photo album. Rio is a beautiful city and you can almost believe you are there in the last half of the film. My favorite character, outside of Blu, is Luiz, the bulldog who claims his drooling is a medical condition.
The Rio DVD also contains extras such as the cartoon of Scrat the squirrel in Continental Drift. You also can see a deleted  scene, which is a rough draft of what would have appeared on the screen. There are also the Rio trailers and  dance sequences. The DVD is close captioned, and in English and Spanish (subtitles). Enjoy.
Copyright 2011 Marie Asner