Movies: Rio ***
(G, GENERAL RELEASE)
Made by Blue Sky, the people who brought you Ice Age and its interminable sequels, Rio is a bright, breezy and thoroughly unpretentious computer animation that entertains consistently without quite reaching the standards of a certain Californian cartoon company.
In a spectacular opening sequence, we see a small bird fall from a tree in the forests around Rio de Janeiro and into a trapper's cage. The little bird is ferried to wintry Minnesota, where he ends up in the care of a kindly girl called Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann).
Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) grows into a magnificent and thoroughly domesticated Blue Macaw who's devoted to his human owner.
But it turns out that Blu is among the last survivors of a species that's about to become extinct. And when a Brazilian scientist called Tulio tracks Linda down and tells her that a female Blue Macaw has been found, she reluctantly agrees to bring Blu to Rio so they can mate.
When they get there, Jewel (the female Macaw, voiced by Anne Hathaway) is unimpressed with Blu, but before they have time to settle their differences the pair are bird-napped by an unscrupulous gang of animal smugglers who plan to sell them to the highest bidder. And when the two Macaws manage to escape into the jungle, Jewel realises that Blu can't even fly.
Blu comes across as an avian Woody Allen, and much of the film's humour stems from the clash between his neurotic approach to the great outdoors and the gay abandon of his Brazilian counterparts.
The Rio carnival is recreated in one of the film's more memorable set pieces, and a passable group of supporting characters includes a constantly slavering bulldog called Luiz (Tracy Morgan) and a wise old toucan, Rafael (George Lopez). It's cheerful, upbeat stuff, and there are enough jokes to keep adult escorts happy.
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