As the only legitimate major studio contender to Pixar in the animation business, Blue Sky Studios has been wont to expand beyond its proven Ice Age franchise, for  which a new instlament is, in fact,  due next year. Its taken a few creditable steps in the direction, with the Dr Seuss adaptation, "Horton Hears A Hoo" and "Robots"

But this tropical-flavoured comedy-romance is its surest step yet out of the Ice Age mold. Snatched from his amazonian homeland almost at birth, Blu, a rare blue macaw (Jesse Eisenberg) is transported to the frozen north of Minnesota, there to spend his days in comfort and luxury courtesy of bookshop owner Linda (Leslie Mann). The "chance" visit of a Brazilian ornithologist (famed Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro) sets the story in motion and in Brazil Blu, who by virtue of his cushy upbringing has never had to fly, meets his match in the feisty hardscrabble Jewel (Ann Hathaway).

Along their perilous course to love and freedom they encounter a "henpecked" toucan (George Lopez), a rockin' robin and a slick canary(soundtrack contributor will. i. am and Jamie Foxx respectively), a sloshy bulldog (Tracy Morgan), a gang of poachers and a gleefully cruel cockatoo named Nigel (Jermaine Clement) who does the lead poacher's evil bidding. There's lots of music, including the obligatory nod to Sergio Mendes, "Mas Que Nada" and some terrific shots of the city of the title

Rio's packed agenda belies it's short title: culture shock (especially the conventional closed-in Midwestener in the land of samba), environmental protection, social inequality, the centrality of Carnival to Brazilian life and - of course - love and adventure - are all on the narrative slate. Give director (and native Brazilian) Carlos Saldanha credit for juggling them so expertly within the framework of the overall plot.

Of course, the voice acting and  animation are first-rate and - especially in the beach and Carnival scenes - lightly sprinkled with a few adult touches (a bikini bottom here, a suggestive swing there), but nothing that should leave parents feeling their kids can't watch this one with them.

Carnival time may be past in both Rio and Port-of-Spain (Trinidad) but there's no reason why you shouldn't take this cinematic revelling trip.

Source: Mike @ the Movies