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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Rio

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Animated characters Blu and Jewell appear in a scene from the movie "Rio."
There's not much to blame on "Rio" (Fox). Instead, praiseworthy lessons about environmental stewardship and love-inspired loyalty are decked out in kaleidoscopic colors and delivered in an overwhelmingly child-friendly tone in this animated 3-D flight of fancy.

Living as a cosseted pet in chilly Minnesota, Brazilian-born macaw Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) has daily mugs of hot chocolate and—more importantly—the loving protection of his devoted owner, small bookstore proprietor Linda (voice of Leslie Mann), to keep him warm.

Blu's jungle origins and the traumatic experience of being kidnapped by exotic bird traders—only a happy accident eventually landed him in Linda's possession—are long past and barely remembered.

So it comes as a shock when eccentric Rio de Janeiro-based scientist Tulio (voice of Rodrigo Santoro) turns up in the North Star State to inform Linda that Blu is the last living male of his species. As such, Tulio explains, it's imperative that Blu return to his native land, at least temporarily, to mate with his sole remaining female counterpart.

Reluctantly, homebody Linda and thoroughly domesticated Blu agree to Tulio's plan.

But Blu's opposite number—fetching yet feisty Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway)—immediately intimidates her shy blind date and proves far more concerned with breaking out of the captivity of Tulio's lab than with perpetuating her kind. Things only go from bad to worse when the lovebirds are suddenly nabbed (in Blu's case, yet again) by illegal avian dealers.

Jemaine Clement's voice work as Nigel, the elegantly odious cockatoo who aids these human villains, is one of the comic highlights of "Rio." Jake T. Austin as Fernando, a boy from the "favelas," or slums, of Rio offers, by contrast, a gentle but poignant reminder that the real life of the Brazilian capital involves more than just bikini-clad girls strolling along the beach at Ipanema.

Perhaps inevitably, director Carlos Saldanha sets the climactic scenes of his buoyant adventure—which also includes a handful of upbeat musical numbers— against the dazzling background of Rio's legendary carnival.

In a bit of possibly excessive realism, though, this occasion is used to show off some questionable costuming choices, not least that of one minor male character who briefly dons a gold lame set of men's underwear. His walk on the wild side—though calculated to make kids laugh—may strike some parents as a step in the wrong direction.

Otherwise, there's just one vaguely sexual joke aimed over the heads of youngsters and a couple of allusions to bodily functions couched in terms even the members of the target demographic might acceptably use.

The film contains a few nursery-level bathroom references and a fleeting double entendre. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Joan of Arc: 
		<p>Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.</p>
		<p>Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.</p>
		<p>During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men's clothes. The English resented France's military success–to which Joan contributed. </p>
		<p>On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.</p>
		<p>Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life "offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action" because her spiritual insight is that there should be a "unity of heaven and earth."</p>
		<p>Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies. </p>
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