It'll be interesting to see what the Fox Business Network will say about the animated kiddie film "Rio 2." That channel's hosts were the ones who accused Disney's "The Muppets," Universal's "The Lorax" and Warner Bros.' "The Lego Movie" of brainwashing children with anti-corporate rhetoric because of the movies' villains: an oil baron, an entrepreneur and a CEO, respectively. "Hollywood," one Foxer said, "has its own agenda."
If those movies were propaganda, "Rio 2" may qualify as full-blown eco-terrorism. Its heroes are two endangered Spix's macaws, one a Woody Allenish urbanite, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), the other a spirited beauty named Jewel (Anne Hathaway). They met in 2011's "Rio" and are now raising a family in that Brazilian city, but they've also discovered a large population of Spixes hidden in the rain forest. This film's villain is the Big Boss (Miguel Ferrer), a mustachioed clear cutter with a hatred for "tree-huggers."
"Rio 2" may sound like a commie plot, but in fact it's pure cost-benefit analysis. Directed by Carlos Saldanha and written by a four-person team, the movie has one goal: to amuse the most children with the least amount of effort. Despite a range of voice talent (from Leslie Mann to the bossa nova princess Bebel Gilberto) and some colorful Brazilian music supervised by Sergio Mendes, "Rio 2" lazily recycles countless old movies into a barely new one. Among the cliches are two hip-hop sidekicks (Jamie Foxx and will.i.am), a domineering father-in-law (Andy Garcia) and a puffed-up R&B crooner played by Bruno Mars. One bright spot is Kristin Chenoweth as Gabi, a poisonous frog whose unrequited love for the evil cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) results in a Broadway-style showstopper.
Generally, "Rio 2" loathes nonfamiliar ideas and loves easy ones: Its characters rap, sing old disco nuggets and break into large musical numbers to pad a short running time. The serviceable animation is by Blue Sky Studios and Fox Animation.
That raises a point: The studio behind "Rio 2" is, along with the Fox Business Network, entwined in the media conglomerate 21st Century Fox. Clearly, there's good business in pushing anti-business messages that pro-business anchors can denounce. If nothing else, "Rio 2" can be your child's first lesson in economics.
PLOT A family of endangered Spix's macaws discovers that it is not alone.
CAST Voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia, Bruno Mars
BOTTOM LINE Kiddie-level humor make this animated movie thoroughly family-friendly, as long as discerning adults are not in your family.