| After successfully helming the "Ice Age" franchise for Blue Sky Studios, director Carlos Saldanha returns to his native country of Brazil and titles his movie after his beloved hometown of Rio de Janeiro.
This animated adventure centers on Blu (the voice of Jesse Eisenberg from "The Social Network"), a rare macaw who never learned to fly. He was caught at a young age in the Brazilian rainforest and flown to snowy Moose Lake, Minn.
Blu became the faithful companion and best friend to his human owner Linda Gunderson (Leslie Mann from "17 Again"). Blu has led a pampered domestic life for 15 years. His normal routine is interrupted when ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro from "Lost") arrives at Linda's book shop.
Tulio has flown 6,000 miles looking for Blu, who happens to be the last male of his kind. In order to save the species from becoming extinct, Tulio urges Linda to take Blu to Rio to mate with a female temporarily residing at his bird sanctuary. Linda ponders Tulio's request and decides it is the right thing to do.
Blu and Linda arrive to a party atmosphere as a carnival is under way. The neurotic and nerdy Blu is put in the same cage with Jewel (Anne Hathaway from "Alice in Wonderland" and "Hoodwinked!"). They don't exactly hit it off. Blu is immediately smitten by this beautiful angelic creature. The free-spirited and independent Jewel is more concerned with escaping captivity than a romantic rendezvous.
Fernando (Jake T. Austin from "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Hotel for Dogs"), a young boy who wears a tank top with the number "10" on it (in honor of the great Brazilian soccer legend Pele), tips off a group of smugglers about the caged exotic birds at the sanctuary. They pull off the heist by disabling the security guard with the help of Nigel (Jemaine Clement from "Despicable Me"), a villainous cockatoo, and whisk away Blu and Jewel.
While constantly arguing and bickering, Blu and Jewel are forced to work together to find a way out of their predicament. A series of escapes, chases and heroic rescues keep things constantly in motion. Audiences are treated to an emotional journey that goes from happy to sad and back to happy.
Along the way, Blu and Jewel make new friends that include Raphael (George Lopez from "Marmaduke" and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"), a big-beaked toucan, Luiz (Tracy Morgan from "30 Rock"), a drooling bulldog, and bird buddies Pedro the cardinal (will.i.am from "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa") and Nico the canary (Jamie Foxx from "Dreamgirls" and "Ray").
Screenwriters Don Rhymer ("Surf's Up"), Sam Harper ("Cheaper by the Dozen"), Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin ("Yogi Bear") have come up with a wonderful story filled with humor and romance. Youngsters will be captivated by the colorful characters, the toe-tapping musical numbers and the breathtaking aerial backdrops. Awareness of the characters and interest in the movie among adults has been spiked by Rovio's new mobile game "Angry Birds Rio."
As a bonus, the animated short "Scrat's Continental Crack-Up" precedes the feature attraction. This three-minute cartoon is a teaser for the upcoming "Ice Age: Continental Drift" to be released next summer. It is a humorous alternative explanation for the creation of the continents. The familiar saber-toothed squirrel tries in vain to hold on to the elusive acorn.
"Rio" has everything you desire within its 96-minute running time. You have a choice of seeing it in standard format or digital 3D complete with special eyeglasses.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"