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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Susan Granger's review of 'Rio 2'

Updated 3:09 pm, Friday, April 18, 2014
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While this animated sequel stuffs in twice as many characters and twice the amount of comedic subplots, it redeems itself with progressive percussive pop music.

Those rare Blue Spix Macaws, domesticated Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and free-spirited Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are raising their three chicks: wise Bia (Amandla Stenberg), adventurous Tiago (Pierce Gagnon) and adolescent Carla (Rachel Crow). But when Blu's Minnesota buddies, traveling eco-activists Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) and Linda (Leslie Mann), find a flock of Blue Spix Macaws as they're trying to halt logging in the Amazon rainforest, they announce that the endangered species is not extinct. So Jewel decides that it's time to introduce her iPod-loving kids to their natural wild habitat in South America.

Nerdy, neurotic Blu, who wears a fanny pack with a GPS for navigation, is understandably reluctant about making the 2,000-mile journey. Nevertheless, they descend on Rio de Janeiro, along with the party-hearty toucan Rafael (George Lopez) and the rapper duo of cardinal Pedro (will.i.am) and canary Nico (Jamie Foxx). Before long, they find Jewel's lost-lost family, including her stern father Eduardo (Andy Garcia), overbearing Aunt Mimi (Rita Moreno) and preening childhood playmate Roberto (Bruno Mars), whose charm ignites citified Blu's jealousy.

Meanwhile, in the waterfront Carnavale, the villainous, Shakespeare-quoting cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) is plotting revenge with Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), a poisonous pink-and-purple tree frog who adores Nigel but cannot be touched, and mute Charlie, a tap-dancing anteater with an extra-long, elastic tongue.

Chaotically scripted by Don Rhymer, Carlos Kotkin, Jenny Bicks and Toni Brenner from a story by Brazilian-born director Carlos Saldanha, it's filled with vividly colorful merriment and jubilant musical numbers, supervised by Sergio Mendes with composer John Powell, singer-songwriter Carlinhos Brown and original compositions by Janelle Monae and Wondaland. But the effect is uneven. Jemaine Clement's rap-infused rendition of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" seems discordant, while Chenoweth soars with the torch song "Poison Love."

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Rio 2" is an exotic 6, a frantic, family-friendly adventure that's filled with familiar feathered friends.