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Missed Rango, Gnomeo, and Mars Needs Moms? See this.

  • (L-R) Rafael, Blu and Jewel in "Rio."
  • (L-R) Rafael, Blu and Jewel in "Rio."
  • (L-R) Luiz and Blu in "Rio."
  • (L-R) Blu, Jewel, Pedro, Rafael and Nico in "Rio."
  • Tulio in "Rio."
  • (L-R) Pedro and Nico in "Rio."
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This flight of fancy has all the vibrant colors of Up, and lets the world know that Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) wants to give Pixar a run for their money. It’s not as good as Up, and a lot of critics will be quick to point that out; but last year when we saw Zach Galifianakis in the mental institution in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, no critics said “It’s not as good as One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.” Why do we have to compare animated films with the best ones we’ve seen? That being said, this will probably win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

The story is about a rare blue macaw, voiced by the always nerdy Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)…and coming off her hosting gig at the Oscars, Anne Hathaway as the (possible) future love interest. A woman in Minnesota (voiced horribly by Leslie Mann) is visited by an ornithologist from Rio de Janeiro who has another macawa he wants to breed. These are the last two in captivity. She’s reluctant to leave her small book shop and so is her bird – who is really reluctant to do much of anything other than pick marshmallows out of hot cocoa and talk smack to the pigeons out in the snow.

They go and deal with other exotic birds, animal smugglers, and the Carnival. There are a few really fun escapades. One involves Eisenberg learning to fly.

Another involves an evil cockatoo that wants to torture every other bird in sight. He’s voiced wonderfully by Jemaine Clement, who always cracked me up on The Flight of the Conchords.

Tracy Morgan, who is so funny he even got me to laugh in the poorly received Cop Out, is perfectly cast as the Bull Dog. Jamie Foxx and George Lopez are good in their roles, and Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes have smaller roles that work nicely.

I didn’t care for will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas), but it was a good score for the filmmakers to get him. The opening song Birds of a Feather was visually stunning, but didn’t blow me away. Thankfully, they didn’t do too many songs. The hysterical number by Jemaine Clement, was also co-written by him. And if anybody knows the humorous songs he did in Conchords, they know they’re in for a treat. The Latin rhythms that played through out the film got old, although they certainly fit, considering where the movie was taking place.

It was nice to see that the 3D was actually worth it – whether that was for the fun scenes with birds and hang gliders – or a poor local boy on a rooftop looking at the lights and activity of the city. Writer/director Carlos Saldanha is from Rio de Janeiro, so it must’ve been a thrill for him to do this.

I’m giving it a B.