Rated G. Running time: 1 hour 41 min.
Our content advisories (1-10): Violence 2; Language 0; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our star rating (1-5): 4
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it…
Director Carlos Saldanha (remember his delightful Ice Age films?) takes us back to Rio and the Amazon rainforest in still another animated film that will please adults as much as children. The film begins with the macaw Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) enjoying a comfortable life in Rio de Janeiro with wife Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their three little kiddies. Ornithologists Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), Blu’s former owners, are in the Amazon rainforest where they discover a group of endangered blue macaws living deep in the jungle. When the announcement of their discovery is carried on TV, Jewel thinks they should go help their human friends, but Blu is less than enthusiastic because it would mean giving up the perks of city living.
When they do go, older viewers might think of the old TV series Green Acres in which the husband moves his city-loving wife to a farm in search of the simple life away from hectic Manhattan. In this film it is the male, Blu, who hates the wilds, whereas Jewel is delighted to be back in the wilderness, especially when she discovers her family again. Blu insists on wearing a fanny pack loaded with urban artifacts such as a GPU device that he is always consulting. Even more disconcerting to him than the primitive conditions is Jewel’s father, Eduardo, who takes an immediate dislike for his son-in-law. You will enjoy how they work out all their many issues.
There are two villains in the film this time. Nigel, the cockatoo whom Blu had bested in the first film, also journeys to the rainforest when he learns that his archenemy is there. Bent on vengeance, he and his devious companions intend, of course, to do in Blue. There is also a human, the Brazilian Big Boss who sees the rain forest only as a source of lumber and who does not care if his clear cutting technique will lead to environmental disaster. Linda and Tulio are the first to resist his bulldozers and chainsaws, by literally hugging trees to protect them. Then to their aid come Blu and the other macaws (who have just fought a losing battle to settle a territorial dispute). I wish there were a real life solution as simple as that in the film, but nonetheless it is good to see this fantasy, aimed primarily at children, deal with an important issue.
Indeed, after watching the film with children, parents and/or educators and church leaders could engage the children in a discussion and Internet search project on the threats to the world’s rain forests. Two (of many) sites to begin with are:
1. Kids Saving the Rain Forest a group based in Costa Rica.
2. Rainforest Rescue, an organization that is concerned with environmental threats all around the world, including South America.