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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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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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