Have you ever had so much to do that, instead of getting anything done, you run around wasting time? That's basically what Rio 2 is like. So if that sounds fun, you'll like this movie. But if you like movies that develop characters and explore interesting familial relationships, skip it.
Rio 2's biggest problem is that it's an ensemble piece that shouldn't be, and it shows you this within one of the first scenes. The happy blue spix's macaws Blu and Jewel are enjoying pre-carnival celebrations only to see the toucan who is supposed to be watching their kids partying it up.
"Wtf, Rafael," they say, confusion in their voices. "Who is watching our kids?"
Rafael shrugs it off. "Oh, they're with Luis."
Then Luis the bulldog shows up and Blu is even more concerned. "Luis, where are the kids?"
"Oh, they're with Tiny!" Luis says. Somewhere in the back of your mind, a drum snare sounds as you wonder who the hell Tiny is. Then the married macaws fly off to check on their kids. And when Blu and Jewel find the three of them tormenting the baby sitter, you realize you just met way too many characters for three minutes' worth of movie.
Sadly, that problem never stops happening. When Blu and Jewel find out that their human caretakers may have discovered a flock of macaws in the Amazon (they used to think they were the last ones alive), the family of five flies off to investigate. That's when audiences get to meet Jewel's father, and her aunt, and her old flame, and the blue macaw flock's rivals, the red macaws. Also there are random loggers threatening to destroy the birds' home while trying to kill Blu's owner Linda and her husband Tulio. Plus Raphael, Pedro, and Nico came along for the rid. And did I mention Nigel is back?
Who is Nigel? He was the evil cockatoo from the first film. Turns out getting sucked into a plane propeller didn't kill him (this is a kids movie. No one can die) — he just lost the ability to fly and now tells fortunes on the streets of the city outside the Amazon. It's ironic because in the first movie Blu couldn't fly. "Irony is for adults so adults will enjoy this," movie execs say. Audience members shake their heads solemnly.
Anyway Nigel also conveniently happens to see his "nemesis" Blu in transit to the Amazon and decides to follow him to exact revenge. But not without bringing along two more new characters (a tropical frog and an anteater) who are only memorable for one of them talking too much and the other for not talking at all.
All of those characters are the main cast, and if that sounds like way too many members to be the "main" cast, you'd be right. What's even more frustrating is, since the movie's subplot involves Pedro, Nico, Raphael, and Blu's kid Carla trying to find a musical act for Carnival, there are a ton of supporting characters that show up for only a couple shots.
With so much time bouncing back and forth between all these characters, it's hard to find something in the story to hold on to. Watching Rio 2 is voluntarily jumping into a tornado that sucked up a whole family reunion. Also the family members are all performers, and when they aren't rubbing each other the wrong way, they're singing for some reason. It's exhausting and not fun.
Honestly, there isn't even much point talking about the plot, but here it is in a nut-shell: It's a half-hearted tale of learning to overcome differences and working together. Blu is weird because he was a pet, and Jewel's father doesn't like him. Blu makes a fool of himself and risks losing his family. Then he saves the day and everyone learns a valuable lesson. If you've seen most other animated kids' movies, you've seen this same plot but without having to care about two dozen characters.
It's a shame, though, that Rio 2 couldn't take itself seriously and slow down for a minute. If the movie had taken the time to develop Blu's kids and Jewel's father, it might have had a nice Meet the Parents kind of thing, but for kids.
It didn't need the loggers threatening the Amazon to force the family to reconcile. And it certainly didn't need the once-magnificent-but-now-pathetic villain from the first movie trying to kill Blu with a poisonous frog that (surprise!) isn't actually poisonous.
If you have kids, they might enjoy the break-neck zaniness that is Rio 2 — but that's about the only reason to see this movie. Blue Sky Studios really phoned it in on this one, and instead of taking a risk to do something new, they went for volume in a musical orgy that was supposed to be more fun than it was.