Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Rio Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Vibrant bird tale is part adventure, part love story.
  • G
  • 2011
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 70 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 108 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

There are environmental lessons about the importance of wild birds and about trying to keep animals safe from smuggling. Kids will also learn about Brazil, especially the Rio Carnival.

Positive Messages

The movie has plenty of positive messages about broadening your horizons, believing in yourself, helping others even when it's dangerous, and caring for the beautiful animals in our midst instead of stealing and selling them for profit. The subplot with Fernando also teaches viewers that no matter how difficult your life is, you can still make good choices and turn your life around.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite the presence of the smugglers and their evil hench-bird, Nigel, most of the movie's role models are positive. Tulio and Linda both love birds and tirelessly work to find Blu and Jewel and provide them with a sanctuary. Blu puts his fears behind him to help save Jewel, and Jewel is a strong female character who isn't afraid or a stereotypical damsel in distress. Young Fernando shows remorse for having helped the bird smugglers and teams up with Tulio and Linda to rescue the blue macaws.

Violence & Scariness

Human smugglers trap and steal various exotic birds (chaining them together in cages), but it's white cockatoo Nigel who's most likely to upset kids. He's very mean and nasty, getting a group of small monkeys to help him by threatening to throw them from great heights and watch them plunge to their deaths (he drops one as an example but saves him at the last minute). The monkeys and birds fight at a party, but no weapons are used. Nigel also chases the macaws and their friends, and he squeezes or stamps on other birds. He sings a scary song about being evil, and he's called a cannibal for eating a chicken wing in front of the other birds.

Sexy Stuff

Many animated women (and men) are scantily and provocatively dressed in Carnival costumes (bikini-clad bottoms are prominent in some scenes). Tulio and Linda flirt with each other and eventually hug and kiss (once, briefly). Same for Jewel and Blu, who spend most of the movie chained together but grow to have feelings for each other. There are a couple of jokes about mating and continuing the species, but younger kids won't get them. There are also jokes about how everyone in Rio dresses in barely there costumes. Nico and Pedro try to give Blu advice about how to seem attractive to Jewel.


Occasional use of insulting language like "idiots," "stupid," "useless," "dumb," "losers," "butt," and "shut up."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this animated adventure is colorful, musical, and romantic. There are a couple of frightening characters -- most notably a scary white cockatoo who relishes harming his fellow birds -- and a few bird smugglers (though most of them are dimwitted and not nearly as cold-blooded as their hench-bird). A couple of birds try to give the main character advice on how to attract his potential mate, and there are many sightings of men and women in skimpy/skin-tight Carnival costumes. Both the main lovebirds and their owners fall in love, so there are a few scenes of flirting and embracing, plus one brief kiss or nuzzle. Characters also use some insulting words, such as "idiots," "stupid," "losers," and "shut up." Linda and Jewel are strong, selfless female characters who are willing to put themselves at risk for freedom (and their loved ones), and kids and parents will learn a good bit about Brazilian customs, particularly Carnival, and what makes Rio such a unique place. Note: The movie is playing in 3-D in some theaters, which makes some scenes more vivid/intense.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1 and 3-year-old Written bydniemand October 18, 2012

Not appropriate for 4 and under

My 3 1/2 year old started watching this movie when it was on tv. I mistakenly let him watch it without screening it first. Within three days, I was hearing... Continue reading
Adult Written byfarmgirla May 18, 2011

Funny, but with several unnecessary elements.

While I liked the story and loved all the beautiful colors, I was highly disappointed in the amount of innuendo in the film. Parents do not need that in order t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 24, 2011

Vibrant bird tale is a win-win for kids and adults!

This is one of those movies where you see it, and then want to watch it a hundred more times. The storyline is great. The characters too! It is also a very colo... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byLoranikas303 January 9, 2021
My kidhood!

What's the story?

Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann) and her pet blue macaw, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), are the best of friends. They live in Moose Lake, Minn., where they run a bookstore together. One day, a Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) makes an unexpected visit, inviting Linda and Blu to visit his bird sanctuary in Rio so that Blu can meet -- and hopefully mate with -- the only other surviving parrot of his kind, Jewel (Anne Hathaway). Despite the fact that Blu can't fly, they agree to make the trip. But shortly after Blu meets Jewel, the two macaws are stolen by a group of smugglers that employs an evil white cockatoo named Nigel (Jemaine Clement) to do their dirty work. Blu and Jewel manage to escape, but they've always got Nigel close on their claws. Meanwhile, Tulio and Linda attempt to find their beloved birds by any means necessary, even it means navigating the chaos of Rio's annual Carnival parade.

Is it any good?

It's no surprise that RIO feels as much like a love letter to Brazil as a delightful love story between two birds and their owners. Director Carlos Saldanha (of Ice Age fame) has said it was his professional dream to create an animated film set in his native Brazil, and he's certainly succeeded. The movie's luscious color palette is so vibrant and the music (supervised by renowned Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes) so enchanting that most adults will want to book trips to Rio after the credits roll. The main quartet of characters is helped tremendously by supporting songbirds Pedro and Nico, played by The Black Eyed Peas' and Jamie Foxx, as well as the always-funny George Lopez as Rafael, a toucan with a large family.

One of the best parts of the movie is the inclusion of Fernando (Jake T. Austin), a street orphan who at first works for the smugglers but later redeems himself by helping Tulio and Linda. Many filmmakers would have ignored the grittier side of their beloved city, but Saldanha shows us -- very believably -- that a boy like Fernando just wants somewhere to belong. Plot wise, there's nothing particularly surprising about Jewel and Blu's adventure, but the animals we meet on the way -- a group of tech-savvy marmosets that text "OOH OOH AH AH" to each other on pick-pocketed smartphones, Rafael's toucan family, and even the crazy Nigel (Clement obviously had a ball playing this sadistic bird, plus he gets to sing) -- and the backdrop of gorgeous Rio make this an exciting cinematic vacation for all families.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's characters and messages. Which of the characters are role models? How can you tell? What do they learn over the course of the movie?

  • What makes animal adventures so appealing? Why do filmmakers -- and families -- gravitate toward movies that have animals as their main characters?

  • The movie's location, Rio de Janeiro, is as much of a character as Linda and Blu. What did you learn about Rio, Brazilian customs, and cultural traditions?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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