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Movie Review: Rio 2

Published April 23, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, Miguel Ferrer, Kristen Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Tracy Morgan, Will i Am, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement.

Rated: G.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 41 minutes.


This is going to be a difficult review for me to write.  First off, I didn’t see the first Rio.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, but never viewed it in its entirety.   And secondly, we’ve seen so many fantastic kids movies recently that I have become a super tough judge.  The plot of this second installment lacked ingenuity and although it’s a heartwarming story of protecting your family and your home – it still has an air of formulaic storytelling.  Rio 2 lacked something else that I believe to be the most important aspect of a kids flick; clever and abundant humor.  I giggled a few times, but no memorable jokes come to mind as I’m writing this.  I like when Ross, Ethan and I can sit around and recall the funniest moments or jokes that we find hysterical.  One thing I did enjoy about Rio 2 was the music.  Bruno Mars joins the cast in this sequel as the lady killing crooner, Roberto.  His voice is unmistakable as were introduced to him moments before the rainforest erupts into head bopping song.  I also enjoyed Chenoweth’s Gabi, who’s unrequited love for Nigel (Clement) is literally toxic.  She’s a poisonous frog and he’s a bird.  The musical number she performs was the highlight for me.  None of the kids movies are bad, but Rio 2 was pretty forgettable.

It’s really too bad Maria didn’t get to see Rio because it was far superior to this generic sequel.  In the original, Blu (Eisenberg) lives a nice cozy, domestic life with his owner Linda (Mann).  A Brazilian scientist shows up claiming to have a female (Jewel voiced by Hathaway) of the same species as Blu, and as they’re believed to be the last of their kind, Blu and Linda head for Rio.  They run into smugglers and an assortment of creatures, friendly and not so friendly.  The romp through the jungle and eventually Carnivale, coupled with Blu learning to fly while falling in love with the reluctant Jewel, added up to a very enjoyable film.  Rio 2 finds Blu and Jewel with a family of their own heading into the jungle when it appears that more blue macaws have been located.  What transpires from there is quite predictable.  City birds in the country, long lost relatives, bad guys trying to destroy their habitat, Blu screwing up then saving the day.  Like Maria said, “forgettable”, not horrible, just incredibly mediocre.  The music was absolutely the best part of Rio 2, they let newcomer Bruno Mars strut his stuff plenty and thank goodness for that.  After seeing Frozen, Despicable Me 2 and The Lego Movie within the last six months or so, the bar has been set so high, it’s impossible not to leave the theater disappointed when you view something that doesn’t quite hit the mark. 

Ethan enjoyed it and I guess that’s really all that matters.  But it’s just so much more fun when we all do.  There have been so many awesome kids movies, some of which Ross just listed and it’s tough to compete with those instant classics.  Especially when they have such original and clever storylines.  Ross and I watch quite a number of shows and that market is saturated also.  I found Rio 2 reminiscent of my usual sentiments towards DaVinci’s Demons on Starz.  It’s just not as good as all of the other stuff (i.e. Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, and Deadwood – which HBO has resurrected).

A formulaic plot and not enough laughs did a disservice to a great voice cast.  Rio 2 felt thrown together for a quick 3-D money grab.  Again, not the worst movie ever made, but if your kids aren’t dying to see it, skip this one and don’t give it a second thought.  It’ll be in the Redbox before you know it anyway.

Maria’s Rating: 2.25 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 2.5 Gummies.






Movie Review: Escape From Planet Earth

Published February 23, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Rob Corddry, Brendan Fraser, William Shatner, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, Jane Lynch, Ricky Gervais, Steve Zahn, Gregg Brinkley, Craig Robinson, Sofia Vergara, Jonathan Morgan Heit.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.

Wow.  Look at that list of stars.  Ross and I were not doing a very good job of nailing who was voicing here.  We still got Fraser, Shatner, Lopez, Lynch and Sofia Vergara – but honestly that’s an off day for us.  Even with this cast of well known stars, Escape from Planet Earth failed to shine.  In fact, I’m not even sure it sparkled.  It just kind of fizzled.  Sometimes things are just not meant to be.  I should have known we were destined for discontent from the first few moments.  The 3-D wasn’t working.  I feel robbed enough paying extra for 3-D, so if I’m going to fork over the extra cash I expect to at least enjoy it.  Out of a packed theatre I was the first person to go find help.  When I returned it was working and Ross informed me that I didn’t miss a thing.  Sadly, I could have missed the whole movie and he probably would have said the same thing.  The 3-D was so unnecessary in this particular picture.  I can’t help but feel that every kid’s movie is just being churned out with these extra money grabs.

Maria and I are great fans of animated features.  The ratio of good to bad far exceeds that of Hollywood’s mainstream offerings.  That being said, they aren’t all instant classics, and Escape From Planet Earth is not going to make anyone forget Cars or Up or Wall-E.  EFPE is the story of two blue-skinned brothers from the Planet Baab, one an adventurous astronaut named Scorch (Fraser), the other the brains behind the scenes nerd Gary (Corddry).  Scorch runs into some big problems on a “rescue” mission to Earth and Gary has to leave the safe confines of mission control to embark on a rescue mission of his own.  The cast of characters they run into on Earth: the evil head of Area 51 Shanker (Shatner), a mouse-like dude named Doc (Robinson), a three-eyed slimy creature with four arms, Thurman (Lopez), and a huge one-eyed monster (Lynch); all have an uncanny resemblence to corresponding characters from the highly entertaining 2009 release Monsters Vs. Aliens.  After doing a little research, I discovered that EFPE has had a multitude of problems.  The project has been in the works for years and has had numerous script rewrites, parts recast and is currently still in litigation between two of the films creating factions.  All of this has added up to an inferior product.  Beyond being a blatant rip-off, it’s just not very funny.   

You’re probably getting sick of us agreeing all the time, but when the man is right – he’s right.  The laughs were fleeting.  And I guarantee you’ll agree if you see this one.  The plot was formulaic, the script was lazy and the heart was non-existent.  I have to guess that the problems off screen effected the production of this film.  This isn’t one that we’ll be rushing to go buy or rent out of the Red Box.  Honestly, there isn’t much else to say about it.  We didn’t enjoy it, but at least Ethan seemed to like it.  If you’re willing to take one for the team, so to speak, then bring a youth to see this flop.  If not, I’d suggest skipping this snooze fest/cash grab.

EFPE is not the worst movie ever made.  Maria mentioned that Ethan enjoyed it, and I’m sure it will do okay at the box office, mainly because there haven’t been any kids movies released recently.  It is just immensely forgettable.  The bar has been set so high by Pixar and DreamWorks, that when an average or below average film comes along, it seems even worse than it is.  The best part of EFPE was Ricky Gervais voicing a wise-cracking computer, and he was in the movie for a total of about 5 minutes.  Brendan Fraser has been in the news of late claiming he can’t afford his child support payments any longer.  His Ex better hope he uses better judgement in his future project selections, or she’ll be paying him pretty soon. 

Maria’s Rating: 2 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 2.25 Gummies.