Linda (the voice of Leslie Mann), as a little girl from Minnesota, one day finds a blue
macaw cowering in a dumpster. She rescues it, names him Blu, and Blu (the voice
of Jesse Eisenberg) becomes not only her pet but her lifelong companion. They do
everything together, including running the little bookstore she now owns. Blu is not
only completely domesticated; this partnership feels like a co-dependency between
human and bird. But as strong as their bonding and affection for each other are, their
little symbiosis has prevented them both from discovering their fuller, truer selves.
One day their whole world changes. Nigel (the voice of Jemaine Clement), an
ornithologist, appears at their bookstore and tells them that they must journey with
him to Rio de Janeiro because he has the only female blue macaw in captivity, and
Blu is the only known male macaw, so they must meet and mate to propagate the
species. Linda is reluctant, at first, but finally sees that their inconvenience needs to
be sacrificed to a greater good, and she convinces Blu. So off they go to Rio.
Of course nothing goes as planned. The female, named Jewel (the voice of Anne
Hathaway) is a spirited, freedom-loving jungle bird who looks contemptuously on the
urbanized, flightless Blu and patronizingly calls him a “pet.” Ah, the course of true
love never runs smoothly. But they have more troubles. They’re both kidnapped by
a notorious ring of rare bird thieves, who intend to sell the “last macaws” for a tidy
profit. Linda and Nigel, completely distraught, are suddenly thrown together in a
frantic search over the teeming port city. Blu and Jewel, literally chained together,
somehow have to find a way to cooperate with one another so they can escape the
clutches of the bad guys. And all this is in the midst of Rio’s festive “Carnaval,”
which creates floats, parades, crazy costumes, big crowds, and lots of distractions for
our accidental tourists. Oh, and along the way we not only find romance, but some
very good opportunities for a little creative, animated singing and dancing.
This movie is just a lot of fun. I was fortunate enough to see it in the company of an
8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, and they were both thoroughly delighted and
enchanted. As was this reviewer.
Ronald P. Salfen is co-pastor of United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas