A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rio 2, the sequel to 2011's hit animated adventure Rio, is another colorful, musical tribute to the natural beauty of Brazil, this time in the Amazon. Although the human threats are less scary here than in the original movie, there are now potentially frightening scenes of wild Amazon predators (jaguars, crocodiles, etc.) swallowing their prey. It's portrayed comically, but it may still upset some kids. Nigel, the vain villain from the original, is back, now with a poisonous frog sidekick who's more than willing to do his bidding. Still, despite the predator-prey scenes, this is a lively musical adventure that's perfect for families who enjoyed the first Rio.
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What's the story?
In RIO 2, rare blue macaw lovebirds Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are now married with three juvenile birds of their own, living in the bird sanctuary established by their married human friends Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro). During a trip to the Amazon, Linda and Tulio discover that there are more blue macaws living in a remote cluster of Brazil nut trees deep in the rainforest. When news gets out about their discovery, Jewel decides that her overly domesticated family needs to go to the Amazon and find out about their roots -- and, as it turns out, her father, Eduardo (Andy Garcia), and old boyfriend, Roberto (Bruno Mars), are the leaders of the flock. Blu has a tough time acclimating to his new wild environment, but even more trouble is brewing: A greedy logging CEO and Blu's old nemesis, Nigel (Jemaine Clement), are both set to destroy the macaws and their habitat.
Is it any good?
Director Carlos Saldanha continues his visual love letter to his home country of Brazil with a second adventure exploring the natural beauty of his native land. The plot of Rio 2 may not be as thorough or exciting as the original, but moving the adventure to the Amazon adds even more colors and animals to a franchise that differentiated itself with its detail to landscapes and location. And thanks to spectacular singers like Mars, Kristin Chenoweth (as Gabi the hilarious poisonous frog), and Janelle Monae joining will.i.am, Clement, and Hathaway, the music is once again fabulously memorable.
Rio's "fish out of water" plot line for Blu already felt played out by the time the original movie was over, so it's a bit of a drag to see him still struggling to fit in with his wild(er) mate Jewel's idea of home. And Fernando, the orphaned boy who played such a prominent role in the original, is only seen once in this installment. But even though it's not quite as singular as its predecessor, Rio 2 is still a fun and thoughtful sequel that will make families leave the theater happy and ready to samba, learn capoeira, and adopt a capybara.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way Blu's family is presented in Rio 2. What about Blu seems similar to how dads are often depicted in movies and on TV? Do Jewel or the kids fit into any stereotypes -- or challenge them?
What makes animal adventures so appealing? Why do filmmakers -- and families -- gravitate toward movies that have animals as their main characters?
What did you learn about Brazil, especially the geography and culture? Does the movie make you want to listen to Brazilian music or to learn more about Brazil, wild birds, the Amazon, or any other wild animals?
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