By M. Scott Morris
Without the vocal talents of Kristin Chenoweth, I’d have to lower my grade for “Rio 2.”
She plays a poisonous frog named Gabi who’s in love with an obnoxious cockatoo named Nigel (Jermaine Clement). Pound for pound – rather, ounce for ounce – that little frog delivers massive comic relief, as well as an achingly funny love song.
The casting director deserves an award. In addition to our leads, Jesse Eisenberg as Blu and Anne Hathaway as Jewel, the cast includes Bruno Mars, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, will.i.am, Tracy Morgan, Andy García, Rita Moreno, Leslie Mann and Janelle Monáe.
Blu and Jewel think they and their three offspring are the last living Spix’s macaws on earth, then word comes about a lost flock deep in the Amazon.
A road trip – or, since they’re birds, an air trip – later, Jewel is reunited with her father (García) and old boyfriend (Mars). She and the kids thrive in the wild, but Blu’s a city bird who can’t please his father-in-law.
It’s like “Meet the Parents” with feathers. My kids and I became uncomfortable watching Blu continuously make a fool of himself. I thought his humiliations were too predictable, while the kids didn’t like seeing the poor guy suffer so much.
I told them Blu would get his act together. After all, someone had to stop the evil humans behind an illegal logging operation in the Amazon.
Several extravagant production numbers help distract from Blu’s troubles, but nothing tops Chenoweth’s solo shot early in the film.
The colorful birds, high-fiving turtles, rapping sloth, vengeful cockatoo, slobbering dog and the rest threaten to overrun the senses at times. Plenty of stuff happens in “Rio 2,” and I had trouble putting names to faces, even after getting a look at the cast list.
During different parts of the movie, I was entertained, bored and even annoyed. But, hey, I laughed out loud numerous times, Chenoweth certainly delivered and others in the cast had their moments, so how bad could it have been?
I give “Rio 2” a C plus.
For what it’s worth, my 11-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy agreed on an A minus.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.