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.
Thanks for the review–I haven’t seen Rio, but will check it out. Honestly, Pixar are the only animated films I make it a point to watch, so I wholeheartedly agree with Toy Story 3 being the standard to measure against! 🙂
I think that is the problem now. The movies look wonderful but they aren’t putting much into the story. Expecting the visuals to carry it. Though I really liked TS3. I really loved How To Train Your Dragon so much more, I think the score was awesome and should have won the Oscar.
I loved the Moose Lake reference in the Veggie videos. Having grown up in MN, I heard this town name often as a stopping point on the way to the Twin Cities. When I heard it in Veggie Tales it just registered as a part of “home” for me. Thanks! – Haven’t seen Rio. The trailers made me think it had a weak story line.
I haven’t seen Rio – I usually don’t watch CGI movies other than Pixar and Disney, because they’re usually lacking in the fresh, original creativity department. However, much to my surprise, I did enjoy Megamind, mostly because of the quick dialogue. (Though I am the biggest non-fan of anything Dreamworks) But the vast majority of animated movies that are being released are just boring. You can make the technically best animated movie ever, but if you don’t connect with your audience, you won’t be gaining fans.
youtube.comSpeaking of Veggie references, does this segment from Cartoon Networks new The Looney Tunes Show remind you of anything? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD_zy1BpfP0&feature=feedu
Maybe you could come to my home and watch a animated film.
My son really enjoyed Rio when his Dad took him, but he didnt want to see it a second time when the opportunity came up.
Now with young children you know they love it when they watch it endlessley…. ad nauseum! In his defence i often expose him to programs that are either educational or enhances his spiritual growth and perhaps Rio didnt press the right buttons for him.
Now Pirates Who Dont Do Anything… that is his all out fave movie and has been so for about 2 years now.
It’s interesting that you didn’t like “Rio” all that much. I saw it with a couple of friends and I thought it was a pretty good movie, but that’s probably because I went on a mission trip to Sao Paulo a couple of years ago and a lot of the things in the movie reminded me of it, the chicken hearts especially! (They’re actually really good! I tried them!)
The new Cartoon Network _Looney Tunes Show_ has a silly song segment in the break called “Merrie Melodies” which *has* to be a _VeggieTales_ reference. The first episode’s “Merrie Melodies” is Elmer Fudd singing a love song to a grilled cheese sandwich which in style and content evokes both “His Cheeseburger” and “The Bunny Song” (not the new and improved one).
I finally saw Rio and really enjoyed it. To be fair to the critics, the villain of the story is very generic, and was the one flaw in this movie. But there are plenty of good reasons to watch this movie.
The music of course. In terms of songs, it one of the best musicals I’ve seen. It easily stands up to the best of them. The only song I didn’t like was the villain’s.
The animation. They did an amazing job imitating the movements of the various birds, animals and people as well. I had read a review where someone knocked it for the characters just being humans in animal bodies. I found from watching it that the opposite was true. The animation (and some appropriate gags) really sells the main characters as birds.
The environment. They did an even more amazing job recreating Rio. The colors… I thought it was even more visually stunning than Tangled. I wish I had seen it in theaters in 3D. The people, the culture, the language, the beautiful landscapes, the fauna, and of course the animals. Everything is made to make you feel like you’re really in Rio.
The story. It’s a great story that follows a very interesting train of psychological logic. It makes sense and make the the story exciting to follow if you’re paying attention. Unfortunately, it seems they weren’t sure the whole audience would get it so they spell it out for you at the end through a flash-back.
*MILD SPOILERS* The story also follows what I’ve heard called “The Hero’s Quest” formula, which most of the best stories follow: The Bible, The Lord of the Rings, most Pixar movies… The basic formula starts in a state of perfection (like the Garden of Eden) and then the perfection is quickly taken away in the first act (the Fall of Man). Interestingly, this movie does that twice in the first act. You see Blue as an infant in Brazil, ready to fly and then torn away from everything. Then you see him happily grown up in Minnesota with the main human protagonist. That is taken away when he goes to Rio, get’s kidnapped and chained to another Macaw who helps him escape, only to be further grounded (literally) by the fact that Blue can’t fly. He insists that he doesn’t need to fly and that his life was fine in Minnesota. But Jewel reminds him that he was created for something more, slowly introducing him to the world he was born into. Despite the beauty and joy he sees around him, he still resits and believes he’s better off indoors with his hot cocoa. I believe this is particularly insightful. Many people think they have all they need now, but don’t realize we were created for something more: Paradise. We resist the wonders God offers us in the long run because we would rather be content in our situations than take a risk and be uncomfortable in the short run. It’s not until Blue gives of himself as a sacrifice that he overcomes the emotional and psychological scars that prevent him from flying.
As a long-time fan of animated movies (my wife hates ’em), I was looking forward to three animated flicks this year: Kung Fu Panda 2, Rango and Rio. I’m careful about what I stuff in my brain, so I tend to rent rather than blow a lot of cash on theaters. KFP2 hadn’t come out yet on video, so I rented Rango & Rio on the same day. Rango turned out to be reasonably well done with a decent plotline, although the inbred prairie dogs were far too grotesque for me to ever consider showing this to kids.
On Rio, however, I concur with Phil: Where’s the plot? Character development? Every person I’ve talked to has agreed: They could have lived without just about every secondary character. Nobody really cared about the main characters, either. Typical weak TV males, strong-willed females who actually have all the brains, and moronic secondaries and villains. Essentially, Rio comes across as a CGI version of the Tiki Room in Disneyland- but with less acting talent. The only redeeming point of the movie was noting that Moose Lake (of Veggie fame) showed up.
Here’s hoping WITB 6 gives my kids something edifying to watch, because neither of the two R’s of summer will show up in our house.
I noticed that the first time I saw that!!! GO MOOSE LAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had to laugh about your predicament about your kids not giving you an excuse to watch animated movies. My best friend in high school and I were huge Veggie Tale fans and anytime a new video came out we would start hunting for a little kid to watch them with so we could see the movie and still look “cool”. 🙂
Hey, there’s nothing wrong about watching animated children’s movies by yourself. I’m studying to become an animator and so I think it would be rather hypocritical if I didn’t. haha
Wow. I always thought Moose Lake was real… Thanks Veggietales, haha.
I’m from Cloquet, Mn. Just miles from Moose Lake! I was born in ’88 so Veggie Tales was a huge part of my life growing up as a kid. Now I have a son of my own. I love the VeggieTales on Netflix for him! Keep making more movies and seasons! It’s great to have a show so entertaining and wholesome!
Bit late (okay more than a bit) but according to Wikipedia, Moose Lake was referenced because:
“In the 20th Century Fox 2011 computer animated movie Rio, Jesse Eisenberg’s character lived in Moose Lake, the setting was picked because one of the screenwriters of the film; Don Rhymer, grew up in Moose Lake, Minnesota.”
Of course, Veggie Tales was where I first heard of Moose Lake and this whole time I thought it was a fictional town. Till I did some research.
As for quality animated films, look no further than Studio Ghibli. Pixar is a given, Dreamworks is hit-and-miss, and the relatively new studio, Laika makes some interesting works. Disney is doing better but still has a ways to go to regain the quality storytelling and animation they had during their “renaissance”.
Don’t know if you’ve seen any of Studio Ghibil’s films but I highly recommend all of them. I suggest starting with Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, or Princess Mononoke.