There aren’t many reasons to seek out a film like Rio. It’s probably the very definition of inconsequential. But I imagine that the filmmakers, who also gave us the three Ice Age movies, didn’t have much consequence in mind. A domesticated blue macaw is kidnapped and taken to Rio De Janeiro to mate with the only other bird of his kind. A weird hypothesis for the film to take, considering that we aren’t told what kind of blue macaw these birds are – hyacinth or throated? Is it a Spix blue macaw? And even so, why are there only two of them left? I’m not an ornithologist, but this crossed my mind more than once during the film. Suspending disbelief works most of the time.
Early on in the film, and by “early on” I mean “pretty much during the opening credits”, we’re let in on the joke: this is a film about a bird finding the courage to fly. Of course, flying is a metaphor for being free. It’s not that the bird can’t fly, so he doesn’t have any sort of disability to overcome; it’s that he was knocked out of a tree by poachers when he was extremely young, and just never learned. This bird is Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), and he grew up in the warm protective arms of a woman named Linda (voiced with love by Leslie Mann). Linda has no idea how special Blu is, and neither does he, until (for some reason) a Brazilian bird doctor walks past their bookstore and sees Blu for what he is – the last of his kind, sort of. The three of them go to Brazil, right before Carnival, to mate Blu with Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) in order to continue the race. The birds are kidnapped for other gains, and the film finally truly starts, with absolutely no urgency whatsoever.