I’ve got a problem. I feel like I need to see the latest animated films to keep up on things, but my kids are now all old enough that they aren’t that excited about seeing animated films with me. So I’ve been missing some lately that I really wanted to see. So I came up with a solution: A couple of days ago I took a long lunch break and went and saw “Rio,” the new CGI film from Blue Sky Studios. I know. Weird, huh? It felt sort of like skipping school to go to the circus. Not that I ever did that – I was a kid who always followed the rules. Skipping school was for kids that I was pretty sure would end up in jail. Or worse.
Anyway, I played hooky from work and saw Rio. And, frankly, it wasn’t all that good. It looks great, of course – colors, animation, rendering, lighting, all that. The guys at Blue Sky are really good at what they do. But the film wasn’t particularly heart-warming, or particularly funny. Jesse Eisenberg – the star of “The Social Network” – plays the lead character, who is a macaw. Since I just recently watched The Social Network, though, and his voice is very distinct, all I could think was, “Hey – that’s the macaw that invented Facebook!” And the lines he was given to say in The Social Network were often funnier than the lines he was given for Rio. Weird.
Did anyone notice the town in Minnesota where the Facebook-inventing macaw and his owner lived? Moose Lake! Ring any bells, VeggieTales fans? Yes, we made about a hundred references to Moose Lake, MN in various VeggieTales episodes over the years, after we got a petition from fans in Moose Lake to “uncancel” Silly Songs with Larry (which were cancelled by Archibald Asparagus in a goofy episode called “The End of Silliness?!?”). So… coincidence? Or did VeggieTales raise Moose Lake, MN high enough in the collective cultural consciousness that, when trolling for an obvious funny-sounding Minnesota town, the writers of Rio immediately thought of our favorite cold-weather veggie reference?
We will never know.
Anyhoo… it isn’t a bad movie. Well animated, of course. (At times, beautifully animated.) Just not particularly moving or funny. Which is a bit of a problem when you’re competing against Toy Story 3.